Parents will be interested in a story in The New York Times today about Baby Einstein videos. Walt Disney Company is offering a refund of $15.99 each for up to four videos purchased between June 5, 2004 and September 5, 2009. For those who’ve never seen one, Baby Einstein videos feature bright colors, puppets, flashy graphics and classical music. The company, founded in 1997, claimed the products were educational for babies. Disney bought the firm in 2001
But the American Association of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 2 do not spend any time in front of a screen. I wrote about this issue in 2007 when I interviewed Susan Gregory Thomas, author of “Buy Buy Baby,” an excellent expose of the children’s “educational” video and toy business. Some child development experts even suggest there is a connection between early exposure to videos and attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Back in 2006, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over DVDs marketed to babies. As a result, the Times reports, the companies dropped the word “educational” from their marketing materials. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood thought that didn’t go far enough, and last year threatened a class-action suit for unfair and deceptive practices unless Disney offered a refund to all consumers who purchased the video since 2004. That’s now part of a settlement; click here for information on how to get your refund.