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This is your baby… On Steroids

In this world of “hurry up and rush”, products like Your Baby Can Read make perfect sense. I mean, who wouldn’t want their two year old reading the New York Times in their high chair. [I know I’m sarcastic, its a defense mechanism or a coping device- choose one. I– unlike these space babies– didnt learn to read until I was 5/6.]

Wait, hold up. What’s that you say? Well shut my book and call me illiterate!

It seems that the watch-dog group The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that “Your Baby Can Read” uses deceptive marketing to get parents to buy its DVDs, flashcards and other materials. For those unfamiliar with the product, YBCR features video tutorials that use visual cues, sounds and memorization techniques to familiarize infants with words. According to the creators of YBCR, children as early as 18 months are able to transition from the basic memorization to being self-readers. The commercials and ads show infants responding appropriately to words on flash cards as early as 8 months!

The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood backed by an NBC News investigation that aired on TODAY found that child development experts from coast to coast were of the collective opinion that while young children can be made to recognize or memorize words, the brains of most infants and toddlers are just not developed enough to actually learn to read at the level the way the enticing television ads claim they can. The Campaign… claims the product’s ads are misleading and erroniously dupes families out of millions of dollars who’ve staked their hopes of giving their children a headstart on the product’s claims. Additionally, they cite the dangers of exposing young children to so much television and computer screen time at such an early age (a bulk of the YBCR platform is centered around child-friendly videos of pictures and their corresponding words).

“If parents follow the ‘Your Baby Can Read’ instructions, after 9 months, babies would have spent over a full week of 24 hour days in front of a screen. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2. So does the White House task force on childhood obesity”, says  Susan Linn executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Hey, you weren’t Doogie Howser, but your parents loved you anyway. Education is as much affection as it is instruction. Let’s face it: we all want to give our children the best advantages in life but the truth is sometimes, the most advantageous gift we can give them is our time and attention. If you want your child to have a passion for reading, don’t plop them in front of the television while you go smoke a joint… read to them. If you want your child to have a love for art, don’t drop ’em off at the High Museum at 2 years old while you go get your nails done… draw with them. Products like Your Baby Can Read are hazardous, it’s like saying you want your child to love health and fitness but instead of just playing with them, you pump them up with steroids!

Do better!


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