Join 3,551 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Next up: Nickelodeon Zygote.
May 20, 2006 10:06 PM   Subscribe

BabyFirst TV is a 24 hour satellite channel designed to entertain babies so you don't have to. Don't expect this American idea to catch on in Britain anytime soon. Even television-wondering Americans are wondering, what was wrong with Big Bird? [NYT] The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children of this age group shouldn't be watching television at all. On the other side of the argument, some parents believe that if they're watching anyway, it's better to watch something educational.
posted by grapefruitmoon (39 comments total)

 
The Poor Man's BabyFirst TV
posted by _aa_ at 10:11 PM on May 20, 2006


My mother has confirmed that there was indeed a Felix the Cat lampshade near the diaper changing table when I was a tiny baby. Man, that thing was deep!
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:16 PM on May 20, 2006


Don't expect this American idea to catch on in Britain anytime soon.

Yes, they're too busy in Britain plopping their babies down in front of the pyschedelic Boohbah. Yes, I know PBS is also involved in this show. I deny it.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:44 PM on May 20, 2006


It scares the fuck outta me, I can tell you that. Producing something that looks educational to dimwitted lousy parents is a different thing than producing something that is educational, and during a stage of life when bodily contact and motor movement is most important, I can't see how this is helpful.

Imagination is sucked out of our children by a cathode ray nipple / TV is the only wet nurse that would create a cripple.
posted by Jimbob at 11:03 PM on May 20, 2006


ZOMG. That Boobah... I don't think I'll ever leave my computer again.

The only way this could be more awesome would be if I had some mind altering drug handy so I could think that these bouncy thingies were communicating to me from another world. As is, they're just really awesome.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:04 PM on May 20, 2006


It's been done better, on DVD. Have you ever heard of the Baby Einstein series?

The production value on the Baby Einstein DVDs is better (better lighting, sound, camera work and editing), but ever since Disney bought them, they are preceded with huge amounts of absolutely maddening "branding" that you can't skip because it's a DVD. I hate DVDs. Too bad I'm too lazy to DeCSS them and burn new DVDs without the intros.

I haven't seen any commercials on BabyFirst, which DIRECTV is playing free this month.

So far, my three year-old can't read, can't count past four, and doesn't know the alphabet, but he knows what a bullet is. I blame it on TV, because I am an irresponsible parent. I let him fly the family plane, too.
posted by surlycat at 11:14 PM on May 20, 2006


Seriously, that Boohbah thing is amazing - I assume that you just maximize it for your kid, give them a mouse, and let them go wild. Even so, I am quite mesmerized by it..
posted by jeresig at 11:17 PM on May 20, 2006


Another vote for Boohbah being a lot of fun. And there's not a baby to be seen in this apartment.

As for TV ... I was Sesame Street-obsessed from the age of about two. My mother credits the show for my interest in learning to read at that young age.
posted by anjamu at 11:26 PM on May 20, 2006



So far, my three year-old can't read, can't count past four, and doesn't know the alphabet, but he knows what a bullet is. I blame it on TV, because I am an irresponsible parent. I let him fly the family plane, too.

Your kid is perfectly suited to follow in Dubya's stumbling footsteps. ; >

All (or almost all) authorities say no tv til 2, except for those funded or otherwise supported by networks and companies producing tv for infants, i think. Critical social skills and sensory and tactile and brain-enhancing experiences are denied if you just plop a baby in front of a screen--even giving them an empty cardboard box, or a block, or a piece of paper, or a ball, etc, is a more enriching learning experience than watching tv--there's tons of time for them to do that during the next 80-to-100-plus years of their lives.
posted by amberglow at 11:29 PM on May 20, 2006


I hope I'll be able to resist plumping my future children behind a television. When babysitting my two and four year old nephews, I am confronted with their ability to leech every last bit of energy from your body. I can imagine if you have to put up with that, you sometimes give in and allow them to be mesmerized by the magic box. From a parenting perspective, there is a very real risk that your children will notice that becoming extremely diffcult to handle will improve their chances of watching that box, increasing the likelihood of such an occasion. Vicious circle, here we come!
posted by Zombie Dreams at 11:45 PM on May 20, 2006


I hope I'll be able to resist plumping my future children behind a television. The front is usually more effective.

Sad thing is lack of verbal communication with babies leads to reading/speaking difficulties. All that crappy baby talk parents have with their little ones teaches the kiddies to differentiate the basic sounds of the language. Without that sort of interaction children end being labeled slow or, if their lucky, dyslexic.
posted by econous at 12:06 AM on May 21, 2006


On the other side of the argument...
Isn't money on the other side of the argument?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:17 AM on May 21, 2006


All (or almost all) authorities may say no tv til 2, but my twenty-one month old daughter shocked me this week by reading every last letter off a diner's menu. She knows plenty of words, can sign many more, knows her letters and numbers and the sounds they make.

We've given her very good toys, and she has watched some TV from a very early age. Her favorites are the Baby Einstein series, Sesame Street (where she learned her letters and numbers), Between the Lions (where she learned that words are made of individual letters), Big Big World, and a couple other PBS shows.

Treating TV as a mindless babysitter is bad, no doubt. But treated as one learning tool among many others, it certainly has its place. Flatly saying no TV at all seems a bit much.

I haven't been impressed with BabyFirst TV. The quality of the (short bits of) programming is all over the map. A few bits have been very good (my daughter loves the drawing segments), but overall it's no where near as good as the shows I mentioned above.
posted by ewagoner at 12:20 AM on May 21, 2006


'I hope I'll be able to resist plumping my future children behind a television. The front is usually more effective.'

Ouch, sorry for the Dutchism, thanks for the heads up.
posted by Zombie Dreams at 1:53 AM on May 21, 2006


ewagoner, I remember that in Sesame street someone would animate sand and the sand drawing of BabyFirst TV reminded me of that. In sesame street it's so awesome - I agree with your daughter that drawing stuff is the best. ;)
posted by dabitch at 2:51 AM on May 21, 2006


Zombie Dream I was sorta joshing, I just had an image of a kid sitting at the back of a TV watching the valves glow or something.
-
Sesame Street is not where a child learns their A-Z, that happens through human interaction. It's hard to believe that a parent would want to make the claim that their child learned about letters, numbers and word formation from the television. It makes me a little sad.
posted by econous at 3:20 AM on May 21, 2006


I'm sorry that you are sad, eco, but my 2.5 year old has learned a lot from/trhough tv. We might be bad parents, but since she could walk she has woken up at 4:45 or 5 and mom and me allow her to watch some Noggin or Tivo while we lay on the couch until 7 with her trying to catch a few more zzzs. She talked very early and has spoken in complete sentances from the beginning, and she has a very pronounced depth of understanding of the world around her, especially other kids' emotions.

while i don't pretend that this is all from tv... i can say that my kiddo is the only one we know that watches much of any tv and that the eye candy tht she sought out in Maisy, Finding Nemo, Bugs life, Here come the ABCs and oddly enough Yellow Submarine have without a doubt contributed to her learning some very deep lessons. anti tv/video rhetoric is dogmatic and 1 dimensional when it doesn't show that there are significant learning experiences to be had with this powerful media even for smaller children when the programming is closely controlled. if passivity and media consumption were really that bad for kids listening to music or watching a window would be on the no no list too. i think this is a case for 'no one ever gets fired for saying that tv is bad for kids.'
posted by n9 at 4:21 AM on May 21, 2006


Ok I don't have a kid , but I can imagine the product is FOR ADULTS ! Yeah !

/rant

The objective isn't please/educate/help the kid, but help the adults NOT do that and have the TV do that. I am strongly prejudiced about letting a tv set doing the work of a parent as it is an open easy door for every message..not the subliminal bullshit, but messages like "buy that toy or I will cry" or "it is good to die for the country" shaped in a cartoonish way. FUCK THAT...you turn your head and some church turned your son into a sex obsessed ideologized idiot.

/rant off
posted by elpapacito at 4:24 AM on May 21, 2006


First link, to the TV network's home page, requires a logiin.
posted by emelenjr at 5:41 AM on May 21, 2006


Imagination is sucked out of our children by a cathode ray nipple / TV is the only wet nurse that would create a cripple.

Television! the drug of the nation! Feeding ignorance and something? radiation.

Overly excited to see a Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy quote...
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 5:52 AM on May 21, 2006


n9 and ewagoner according to my shallow ideology, you seem to underestimate your own contribution. Your children are who they are, do what they do because of your interaction with them. The only thing that leaves me a little glum is the overly positive, and undeserved, assessment you both assign to television.
-
I have rather strong feelings about TV and children. Could you tell? Strangely right now I have neither!
-
Of course when I was around 23 days old I had already read Black Beauty. A little later we got a half ton 6 inch TV and I've looked at little else since. The really sad thing is we didn't have electricity in our picturesque hamlet, and lived in paper a bag, yet I couldn't stop looking. Till the men came and took the TV away.
posted by econous at 6:01 AM on May 21, 2006


I have a baby. Why am I not authorized to view that page?
posted by Otis at 6:39 AM on May 21, 2006


Strangely right now I have neither!

Nor have you had to get up at 4:45 every morning with a perky toddler. We use TV sparingly, and spend a lot of time interacting with our son, but sometimes, you run out of baby talk and games and songs and you want to read the paper, or brush your teeth. Baby Einstein and Sesame Street give you the chance to do that without the guilt you'd feel putting them in front of Battling Seizure Robots.


I think what everyone is really concerned about is Those Parents, the ones who never play with or talk to their kids but use tv instead. But taking away tv wouldn't necessarily make them be better parents--there are plenty of ways to be neglectful.
posted by emjaybee at 6:49 AM on May 21, 2006


RE: Baby Einstein, we've found the Brainy Baby series to be much better. They just don't have the marketing budget of the BE group I guess.

The whole TV debate is silly, really. There's nothing inherently good or bad about TV itself, the key is in how you use it. If you let your kids watch nothing but endless replays of Finding Nemo, yeah, they're going to be couch potatoes. If you use TV as another teaching tool in your repetoire, showing them things like Sesame Street or Blue's Clues, they'll do fine.

On preview, what emjaybee said.
posted by Zinger at 7:15 AM on May 21, 2006


econous writes "Sesame Street is not where a child learns their A-Z, that happens through human interaction. It's hard to believe that a parent would want to make the claim that their child learned about letters, numbers and word formation from the television."

I'm against TV for babies, but I'm curious what you base your declaration on. I certainly don't see why a kid couldn't learn ABCs without human interaction. Sure, human interaction is a great thing, but to declare it a prerequisite for infant learning seems, to me, to vastly, vastly underestimate babies and to vastly overrate adults.
posted by Bugbread at 7:46 AM on May 21, 2006


I think the knee-jerk reaction to the topic is interesting -- no one mentioned that the first link of the FPP required a login until more than halfway through the comments so far.

(Thanks, emelenjr, for being the first.)
posted by parilous at 8:20 AM on May 21, 2006


TV teaches kids that learning should be entertaining. This can ruin them.
posted by I Foody at 9:14 AM on May 21, 2006


I'm glad this thread has become an outlet for the parents of Metafilter to discuss the unbelievable genius of their children.
posted by nonmerci at 11:06 AM on May 21, 2006


More thoughts on Boohbah:
Surely I can't be the only person that thinks that their heads & necks look like circumcised penii..?
posted by i_cola at 11:29 AM on May 21, 2006


The link didn't require a log-in when I posted it. Odd that it does now.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:34 PM on May 21, 2006


I don't have children of my own, but I have what you might call a professional interest in kids and how they learn. (I'm a preschool teacher.)

As a teacher, I'm interested in the positive uses of television for kids. I'm not sure how I feel about the "BabyFirst" idea - I know plenty of parents who would use it responsibly and let the baby chill out to the TV for short periods of time. On the other hand, I know a lot of other parents who would leave the TV on all the time and pat themselves on the back because it's "educational."

I would love to have a television in my classroom to show Sesame Street sometimes. There are days when my class just needs to chill out and it's hard to get them to sit down and do something constructive - it would be really helpful to be able to get them to sit down and watch Big Bird.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:40 PM on May 21, 2006


TV for kids is useless and crappy and a lazy way out (and before all you other parents get pissed off at me, I have twins, so don't tell me I haven't been tired and needed a break!)

There are so many interesting things in the world to discover, why start with television? Am I going to be a "no TV ever" mom? Doubtful. But in the first several years of life? Absolutely. Why bother with it?

I'm sorry - you need a TELEVISION to help you interact with your child? Try reading a book with them, playing a musical instrument for them, finger painting, or just having a conversation with your spouse while you all lay around in the grass or on the couch together.
posted by OhPuhLeez at 2:42 PM on May 21, 2006


TV for kids is useless and crappy and a lazy way out

Nonsense.

It's one of many ways to introduce your child to a wider world.

Where I live currently there are very few visible minorities. Sesame Street shows kids and adults of different races and cultures. Other programs show animals which aren't native to where we live. More importantly, these shows demonstrate other people doing things differently than we might do them here.

No one said they need a television to interact with their child. However as I said above, if you use it as one of many tools, it has it's benefits.
posted by Zinger at 5:16 PM on May 21, 2006


As to what Zinger said: when I was growing up, Sesame Street was about my ONLY introduction to people of other races being as I lived in the whitest part of the entire country. My parents did their best to raise me to be open minded, but I owe a lot of what I learned about cultural sensitivity as a kid to Sesame Street.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:41 PM on May 21, 2006


Plenty of picture books exist with these same images of diversity - check your local library.
posted by OhPuhLeez at 7:19 PM on May 21, 2006


Thanks for the condescending advice OhPuhLeez, but we're already regulars at the local library. I suspect the other parents who have posted here are too.

Picture books are just that - still pictures of people. They are not moving, emoting individuals interacting with one another.
posted by Zinger at 8:54 PM on May 21, 2006


I'd also like to point out that I was a child who was reading at age 2 1/2. There were plenty of picture books in my home of all sorts of people. Still, I learned more about race from Sesame Street than from any book.

I think my experience speaks more, OhPuhLeez, than your belief that all television is inappropriate for children.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:32 PM on May 21, 2006


Plenty of picture books exist with these same images of diversity - check your local library.

Good idea! I just may try that! I'll also try not to flip the pages too fast lest I turn into a useless and crappy, lazy pile of goo.
posted by Otis at 7:22 AM on May 22, 2006


So, wait...TV is bad because it's non-interactive and unidirectional. Picture books are good, even though they're non-interactive and unidirectional.

I'm starting to suspect that the "non-interactive, unidirectional" thing isn't what is really bugging people here.
posted by Bugbread at 11:54 PM on May 22, 2006


« Older loituma!...  |  Beer Caps.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments