IS ELECTRONIC MEDIA MAKING SMARTER BABIES?
We live in an increasingly technological world, in which seemingly every person of every age is constantly using an iPad or smartphone, not to mention television or a personal computer. Even grade school kids are connected to every form of device available and there is a huge variety of media at their disposal — apps, videos, music, books. But what about babies and toddlers? Is there such a thing as too young? And what of the content? Is it important that electronic media for this age group be educational or is there a place for it to be an “electronic baby sitter?”
Clearly, we are raising a generation that loves video displays and computer-based devices even more than we do. According to a 2009 survey from Child Trends Data Bank, 93% of children from age three to 17 had access to the Internet in their homes. Last October, Common Sense Media reported that 52% of kids under eight had access to mobile devices at home including smartphones, iPods, iPads and other tablets. And a 2010 study from the NDP Group indicated that 91% of children between two and 17 played video games. As for television viewing, A.C. Nielsen statistics revealed that toddlers between two and five watch over 32 hours of TV a week, with viewing in the age group between two and 11 the highest since 1995.
Some companies see these trends as compelling reasons to create and deliver content for infants and toddlers — what they consider to be an overlooked and underserved demographic. Among them is BabyFirst, the 24/7 cable channel dedicated to providing innovative programming designed to enhance learning and development among infants and toddlers. Rather than the mindless entertainment that serves as a de facto babysitter, BabyFirst’s wide variety of quality programming has been developed under the guidance of pediatricians and child development experts. Since its inception, BabyFirst has grown in popularity and is available in over 35 million homes today. It is also available globally in more than 35 countries, including Canada, Mexico, the UK, Puerto Rico, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In addition to its television operations, BabyFirst is at the forefront of providing educational material across a variety of platforms designed to aid in the development of very young minds. Included are interactive apps for iPads and other tablets, plus videos, books and games.
BY: Sharon Rechter