Monday, April 4, 2011

Into the Minds of Babes (book)

Guernsey, Lisa. (2007). Into the Minds of Babes: How Screen Time Affects Children From Birth to Age Five. NY: Perseus Books.

As a mother, Lisa Guernsey wondered about the influence of TV on her two young daughters. As a reporter, she resolved to find out. What she first encountered was tired advice, sensationalized research claims, and a rather draconian mandate from the American Association of Pediatricians: no TV at all before the age of two. But like many parents, she wanted straight answers and realistic advice, so she kept digging: she visited infant-perception laps and child development centers around the country. She interviewed scored of parents, psychologists, cognitive scientists, and media researchers, as well as programming executives at Noggin, Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop, and PBS. Much of what she found flies in the face of conventional wisdom and led her to conclude that new parents will be best served by focusing on "the three C's": content, context, and the individual child.

Advocating a new approach to TV and DVDs, Guernsey focuses on infants to five-year-olds and goes beyond the headlines to explore what exactly is "educational" about educational media. She examines how play and language development are affected by background and foreground TV and how to choose videos that are age-appropriate. She explains how to avoid the hype of "brain stimulation" and focus instead on social relationships and the building blocks of language and literacy. Along the way, she highlights independent research on shows ranging from Dora The Explorer to Dragon Tales, and distills some surprising new findings in the field of child development.

(book description)