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U.S. Study: ‘Baby Media Products’ Can’t Teach Infants To Read

NEW YORK (UPI) — Using DVDs and other media are an ineffective way for parents to instill reading skills in their babies, New York University researchers say.

While many parents have turned to so-called baby media products in the belief it can give their infants a head start in reading, such products are ineffective, education specialists at the university’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development reported Tuesday.

“While we cannot say with full assurance that infants at this age cannot learn printed words, our results make clear they did not learn printed words from the baby media product that was tested,” teaching and learning Professor Susan Neuman, the study’s lead author, said.

There was one undeniable effect of these products, she noted, but it was on the parents, not the infants, with many parents in the study expressing a belief their babies were learning to read and had benefited from the program in some areas of vocabulary development.

“It’s clear that parents have great confidence in the impact of these products on their children,” Neuman said. “However, our study indicates this sentiment is misplaced.”

In the study, the researchers examined 117 infants, ages 9 to 18 months, in two groups; one that received a baby media product, which included DVDs, word and picture flashcards, and flip books to be used daily over a seven-month period; and a group that receive no such materials.

The results, which included criterion and standardized measures of emergent and early reading skills, showed no differences between the infants exposed to baby media and the control group, the researchers said.

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