Sunday, 28 October 2007

Baby Einsteins

Couldn't resist linking to this photograph, from Trendhunter, which accompanies an article about how Baby Einstein videos 'make infants dumber', according to research by Zimmerman and Christakis at the University of Washington. More interesting than the study itself is the report about how Disney, owners of Baby Einstein, have asked the UoW to retract its media report, given the critique of the study's methodology (for a brief overview of those criticisms, see here). If this is true, then this raises a number of important issues about the relationship between academia and the media industries. Rather than demanding the retraction of media reports, Disney should simply provide a critique of the study in question themselves - after all, that's how things work in peer-reviewed journals. However, perhaps more significantly, this story illustrates the misplaced emphasis in much of the research on young children and media effects, which often seeks to prove causation rather than correlation between factors and is thus open to promoting sensational media would be good if we could move on from this narrow and limiting agenda.

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