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March 06, 2010

Are language learning DVDs for babies useless?


Parents sometimes spend large amounts of money on DVD-based English programs for their babies. In Japan, a high percentage of infants use DVDs to learn English. However, new research carried out by Rebekah A. Richert, Ph.D. and colleagues at the University of California indicates that these kinds of programs may be useless. The research is due to be published in the May issue of 'Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine'

The research concludes that among 12- to 24-month old children who view educational baby videos, there does not appear to be evidence that overall general language learning improves or that words featured in the programming are learned. In fact, children whose parents reported that they began watching infant DVDs at an early age scored lower on a later test of vocabulary knowledge.

The researchers write: 'We conclude by encouraging researchers, parents, practitioners and programmers to consider the variety of cognitive factors related to whether very young viewers should be expected to learn from a DVD, regardless of DVD intent. Many cognitive factors play a role in learning from screens at this age, including children's developing perceptual systems, their understanding of symbols and analogy and their developing abilities to discriminate how much they should trust different sources of information.'

The full text of the research can be viewed here, but it costs $15 to access the article.

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