Disney issues refunds for ‘Baby Einstein’ videos

The Walt Disney Co. is offering refunds for its “Baby Einstein” videos, a tacit admission that they do not increase young children’s intellect, reports the New York Times. “We see it as an acknowledgment by the leading baby video company that baby videos are not educational, and we hope other baby media companies will follow suit by offering refunds,” said Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which has been pushing the issue for years. Baby Einstein, founded in 1997 and acquired by Disney in 2001, was one of the earliest players in what became a huge electronic media market for babies and toddlers. But despite the videos’ ubiquity, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all for children under 2. In 2006, Linn’s group went to the Federal Trade Commission to complain about the educational claims made by Disney and another company, Brainy Baby. As a result, the companies dropped the word “educational” from their marketing. But the group didn’t think that was enough. Last year, lawyers threatened a class-action lawsuit for unfair and deceptive practices unless Disney agreed to refund the full purchase price to all who bought the videos since 2004. The lawyers’ letter described studies showing that television exposure at ages 1 through 3 is associated with attention problems at age 7. In response, the Baby Einstein company 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…

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