Baby Einstein: Genius Guaranteed! (or your money back)

The Key for Harvard? Yeah. Right.

The Key for Harvard? Yeah. Right.

Pardon me for being blunt, but if you’re someone who actually thinks your kid is going to become a brainiac from watching videos of funny puppets, drooling babies, and flying toys, well, then you’re clearly no Einstein yourself.

Just sayin’.

For those not in the know, I’m talking about the refund offered by Disney for the Baby Einstein videos. That’s right. Disney will refund your money if you’re not happy with the product or, in other words, your kid is not any “smarter” from watching their DVD’s.  Baby Einstein is calling it the “DVD Upgrade/Moneyback Guarantee” and they will refund up to 4 Baby Einstein DVD’s purchased between June 5, 2004 and September 4, 2009. The offer is good through March 4, 2010.

I have at least 4 of those DVD’s and I will not be returning any of them.

My kid just turned two years old and he no longer watches Baby Einstein, but he used to watch it a few times a week (among other videos) starting from around 8 months. Despite the fact that those videos drove me crazy, we watched them because my kid loved them. Why wouldn’t he? Crazy graphics, flying objects, catchy music, cute drooling babies, talking puppets…it might make you want to hurl something at the TV but it’s very fun for little ones, to say the least. But is it also educational? Will it make him grow up to cure cancer or create world peace? Is he a future Doogie Howser or Bill Gates? Highly unlikely. Should he actually grow up to be a genius, (which is *ahem* very likely), I doubt I’ll be framing those Baby Einstein DVD’s right next to his Nobel Peace Prize and diplomas from Harvard. But, in all seriousness, here’s what I really value from Baby Einstein and other baby/toddler-oriented videos – they are pure entertainment.

Obviously, I let my kid watch TV and videos. I am not an apologist for it and neither should any other parent that knows how to balance and monitor TV/Internet/video games. I don’t let my kid watch TV because I think it’s educational or a substitute for learning. I don’t let him watch it because I think it’s just as good as playing or reading. I let him watch kid-friendly TV for the same reasons I watch TV, to be entertained. He will laugh at the silly stuff on Wow Wow Wubbzy, dancy-dance with Yo Gabba Gabba, and try and mimic Little Bill or Olivia, whom he calls “Ollie.” I think it’s pretty cool that he’s even picked up a few new words.

I actually think some TV programs and videos are GOOD for kids.  Certain programming can actually fire up those synapses and get little minds stimulated in a positive way, which can obviously help promote imagination and creativity. Of course, you don’t want to OVER-stimulate the mind, but that’s where balance and monitoring comes into play. My kid watches 1-2 hours of TV and up to 4 shows nearly every day. I am always in the same room as him, usually on the laptop, downing my 5th cup of coffee, and periodically glancing up to make sure he didn’t change the channel to the Spice network. If it’s not on PBS or Nick, Jr., he doesn’t watch it. Plain and simple. Like everything else in life, it all comes down to balance and moderation. There are parents that don’t allow any TV/videos at all to parents that plant their kid in front of the tube for most of the day. I think both extremist ways are just that – extreme. However, if you monitor what your kids watch and only expose them to a few programs that encourage laughter, silliness, creativity, and maybe even a few new words, I say…go for it.

What do you think?  How much TV do your kids watch? Are you returning the Baby Einstein DVD’s? Let me know your thoughts.