Are Baby Einstein Videos Educational?

Every parent knows about Baby Einstein videos.? The company was started in the 1990’s by Julie Clark.? They combine classical music, colors, moving images, and babies are mesmerized by them.

The videos started out very low budget.? In the early ones you can see the operators hands working the toys.? Eventually, the company was bought by Disney and the new ones have more animated characters and video effects.? There was always an underlying premise, even if it wasn’t explicitly stated, that these videos were educational, or at least, that it was better for a child than other television shows.

Well, Baby Einstein has been in the news recently and it’s been causing a bit of a stir.? And you know how much SuburbanDaddy loves a good controversy :-)

Under pressure from parent activists, Disney issued an “upgrade” policy that allows anyone who purchased Baby Einstein DVD’s between 2004 and 2009, to exchange it for a book, music CD, or $15.99.

There are so many crazy parts to this I don’t know where to begin.? First, how could anyone really believe, despite what a marketing message may suggest, that watching these videos could somehow be educational or beneficial to a child?? I mean, is anyone really surprised by Disney’s implicit admission they may have misled consumers.? What?!!? A company trying to sell its products made them sound good?

Everyone knows watching television isn’t the best use of a baby’s time.? But we still do it because, while it may not be as educational as Baby Einstein would want us to believe, it also isn’t quite as harmful as activists warn.? Plus TV is very helpful when you need a few minutes of calm.? I know many kids who watched a lot of TV (me included) that turned into perfectly well adjusted, functioning members of society.

But this is what really gets me.? The videos, at least the early ones, are nothing more than recordings of actual baby toys.? So a baby is seeing the exact same thing as if they were sitting next to the toy, except the toy is on the television instead of in person.? I don’t hear anyone calling for removal of these toys.? It’s like saying watching football is ok in person, but if you watch the exact same game on a television, somehow that becomes harmful.

Where do you stand on this important matter?

Busy Busy

I haven’t posted in a while because we’ve been very busy over the last month. What have I been doing instead of writing blog posts?

This past weekend was SuburbanUncle’s wedding in Boston. There was a lot of planning and, as best man, I had to write a speech to deliver to 180 people.

I also published another article as a Pull-Ups Potty Training Expert.

We went to a couple of fall festivals. Thing 1 and Thing 2 love going down the hay slides. The bigger and faster the better.

Hay Slide

Fall Festival

Thing 3 also likes the hay slide.? But he does *not* like to wait in line to get to the slide.? So, he throws a tantrum in the line.? When he gets really mad he also kicks off his shoe, which you can see here when we come down the slide.? He cries the entire time we’re waiting in line, then turns to laughter as we go down the slide, then immediately wants to go again, then throws another tantrum when we have to wait in line.? Yes, it’s a lot of fun for me.? You should come with us some time.

On the slide with no shoe

Besides fall festivals, Thing 1 started kindergarten and had his first visit from the tooth fairy.? The going rate for a lost tooth seems to be $5, at least for the first one.

As you can see, a lot going on around here so blog posts have been sparse.? I did try to write one from my iPhone but the WordPress plugin isn’t working anymore.? With Halloween coming up, I’m sure to get lots of good material to write about here.? Before you head out trick or treating, you may want to look at this story again from last Halloween.

Controversy Over Kid Reciting Miracle Speech

I love a good controversy. Especially one that is so ridiculous like this one. There is a video going around on YouTube of a 4 year old kid reciting the Herb Brooks pre-game pep talk. Apparently, he watched the movie Miracle with his dad 150 times and memorized the speech.

The controversy is that a parent let his kid watch a movie 150 times, or that he’s somehow exploiting his kid by posting his video on YouTube. If that were the case, I’d be in big trouble considering how many videos I’ve posted of The Things. I like the video. Maybe the kid has a bright future as an actor.

As for watching a movie that many times, we are probably approaching 30-40 times Thing 3 has watched Toy Story 1 & 2. These days it’s the only thing that will stop his mega-tantrums. Am I giving in? Maybe. But let’s see what you do when you need to get 3 kids to school on time. It’s a small price to pay. And now, after seeing this video, I have more motivation. If we watch another hundred times, maybe I can film him reciting the lines, put it on YouTube, and start a controversy of my own.

Here’s the video so you can decide for yourself

Jonas Brothers Live In Person

I had a company picnic this week.? There were the usual kids activities – face painting, balloon animals, ice cream – and the featured attraction was a softball game where the company “all stars” played against a visiting team with “special guests”.? Turns out the guests were the the Jonas Brothers.

It was pretty cool even though I don’t have a clue about the Jonas Brothers, other than I’ve seen them on the Today show and know they are very popular with young girls.? I have three boys.? They care more about important stuff.? Like who gets the bigger balloon sword.? More on that later.

As I was walking out the building to pick up Thing 1 and Thing 2 for the picnic, I saw the entourage of SUV’s that was the Jonas Brothers.? I managed to snap these up close pictures with my iPhone.

Jonas brothers getting out of car
Jonas brothers getting out of car

Jonas Brothers play softball

Back to the balloon swords.? We waited in line, in the hot sun, for 45 minutes because Thing 2 really really wanted a balloon sword.? About 5 minutes later, all 4 swords were popped.? What a great use of time at a company picnic.


Milk and Bankruptcy

We go through a lot of milk.? What’s a lot?? Try four gallons a week.? This week I went to the store to buy a gallon of milk.? Since it was the only item I bought, it stood out how much a gallon of milk actually costs.? $3.50.?? Usually, I get more stuff and don’t notice what the milk costs.

It’s not like my milk buying habits would change if I knew the price.? When Thing 3 wakes up in the morning, he is like a crack addict jonesing for his sippy cup of milk.? It usually takes two full cups to settle him down, then he’s good for a few hours until his next fix.

So I started doing the math.? Four gallons a week.? $3.50 a gallon.? That’s $14 a week.? 52 weeks a year.? Comes to $728 a year just for milk!

And they are in daycare all day during the week, where the milk is included.? What happens when they start elementary school and they’re home a few hours earlier…drinking milk?? I don’t want to even think about all the food they’ll be eating when they are teenagers.?? I hope there are some provisions for milk in the trillion dollar economic stimulus package.

Fired Up and Ready To Go

You’ve probably seen the Fired Up, Ready To Go chant that was used in President Obama’s campaign last year.? But you may not have heard the story about how it started.? If not, watch this video first so the second video will make more sense.

Obama tells how he was tired, and struggling to get motivated for a tiny rally in a South Carolina small town, very early in the morning.? And how one woman got the crowd, and him, energized, focused, and ready to go.

This morning, I decided to see if I could use the same technique, albeit on a much smaller scale.? On Sunday mornings, Thing 1 and Thing 2 have swim class at the county rec center.? It’s early.? It’s cold.? We have a full day planned: swim class, pancake breakfast at the volunteer fire station, and it’s Super Bowl Sunday.? Nobody is very motivated.? It’s going to be a long day.? Time to get fired up and ready to go!

Should This Be A Toy Craze?

Apparently, this is a big enough story to make the front page of the Washington Post.? Forget Tickle Me Elmo and Webkinz, the hottest toy this year is a baby doll that actually poops.? Baby Alive comes with food you feed it, and then it pretends to poop.? Just like the real thing.

I don’t know, maybe I don’t get it because I only have boys, but do people really pay $59.99 for this?? I don’t see why someone would get this for their kid.

On the other hand, maybe I could see buying it for someone else’s kid.? Kind of like the toys with 6,000 tiny little pieces we would never buy for our kids, but other parents always give us as birthday presents.