The following is the statement of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in response to President Bush using his January 23rd, 2007 State of the Union address to promote the Baby Einstein video series. During his speech, the President lauded Baby Einstein's founder, Julie Aigner-Clark, as an example of "the heroic kindness, courage and self-sacrifice of the American people," and described the success of Baby Einstein in detail. In 2006, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Baby Einstein (make sure this link remains active) for false and deceptive marketing; that complaint is pending.
"It is extremely disappointing that the President used his State of the Union address to provide a free infomercial for a company built on false and deceptive marketing. Despite its claims, there is no evidence that watching Baby Einstein videos is educational for babies and toddlers.
The President claimed that Ms. Aigner-Clark "represents the great enterprising spirit of America." We respectfully disagree. We don't believe that preying on parents' concerns about their children's well-being; deceiving customers about a product's benefits; or exploiting our youngest and most vulnerable children should have any role in the American marketplace. Research suggests that —for babies—TV viewing may be harmful. It's been found to interfere with cognitive development, language development and regular sleep patterns. The more time babies spend in front of TV, the less time they spend engaging in two activities that really do facilitate learning: interacting with parents away from screens, and spending time in creative play.
TV viewing can also be habituating. For older children, hours of television watched are linked to bullying, poor school performance and childhood obesity.
Despite these concerns, more babies are spending more time in front of televisions than ever. They do so, in part, because well-financed sophisticated marketing campaigns insure that we've all heard of Baby Einstein. Meanwhile, only 6% of parents are aware of that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two.
Americans would be much better served if the President used the bully pulpit to promote the AAP's recommendation rather than promoting a company whose marketing deceives parents into believing that it's educational to plop babies in front of screens.
To learn more about CCFC's FTC complaint against Baby Einstein, Brainy Baby and BabyFirstTV, please visit: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/babyvideos/ftccomplaint.htm.
If you have not yet signed our petition to the FTC urging them to investigate our complaint, please visit: http://www.democracyinaction.org.