Posted , updated Dec 15, 2005.
DVDs, videos, and computer games that are marketed as "educational" have become a popular item among parents hoping to boost their children's development. Electronic toys and games that tout their educational value have been a commercial success, and promise to be on parents gift lists' during the holiday season. But do they really make a difference?
A study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) finds that there is little understanding of how these products affect young children, and no scientific evidence that they enhance children's learning. Moreover, the use of video and DVD programs for toddlers run counter to a recommendation by the American Association of Pediatrics that children under 2 should not get any screen time.
Although industry representatives and others argue that electronic media is "a fact of life" in America, critics urge parents to be dubious of claims of "educational value" as a reason for purchasing toys. They remind parents that direct interactions with parents and caregivers are the most important factor for healthy social, emotional, and cognitive skills.
For now, parents are on their own to judge whether products may be appropriate for their children, and to figure out how to best use these products.
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