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via Wall Street Journal

By Rachel Emma Silverman

By now, many of you have heard that the Walt Disney Company is offering refunds for its Baby Einstein videos, which were originally marketed as educational for children. The refund may be a “tacit admission that they did not increase infant intellect,” according to the New York Times.

Even though many families use Baby Einstein videos as ad hoc baby sitters—and many children do seem mesmerized by them–child development experts say that exposure to the videos don’t really enhance children’s intellect and instead could actually harm development. As we’ve written before, there are lots of conflicting studies about the effects of screen time on young children, but the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend any screen time at all for children under 2.

All the same, Baby Einstein videos and products are ubiquitous in families with young children. According to a 2003 study cited by the Times, a third of all U.S. babies ages 6 months to 2 years had at least one Baby Einstein video.

We don’t own any Baby Einstein videos and so far, our son, a year and a half, has never showed much interest in watching TV and videos—he’s much more fascinated by playing with the remote than what’s on the screen itself. So far, he’s blissfully unaware of Elmo, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Dora and Diego. Still, like many busy parents, I can understand the allure of setting a child down in front of a video for a spell while, say, preparing dinner or making an important phone call.

Disney, the Times says, will refund $15.99 for up to four “Baby Einstein” DVDs per household, bought between June 5, 2004, and Sept. 5, 2009, and returned to the company. The offer, which allows parents to exchange their video for a different title, receive a discount coupon, or get $15.99 each for up to four returned DVDs, requires no receipt and extends until next March 10. (More details on the refund can be found here.)

Kids’ screen-time has been a popular topic at the Juggle. Readers, what do you think of this Disney refund? Do you use Baby Einstein or other videos or shows with your young children, and if so, what programs and when?