On April 12, 2011, CCFC filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Your Baby Can Read!, a $200 video series that encourages parents to put infants as young as three months in front of screens. The complaint is part of our ongoing campaign to support parents’ efforts to raise healthy babies by stopping the false and deceptive marketing of “educational” baby videos.
The complaint, which was prepared by the Institute of Public Representation at Georgetown University, has already been featured in the Associated Press and on the Today Show. We are gratified that, once again, we are raising public awareness that there is no evidence that babies learn anything—let alone how to read—by watching videos. But we need your help to ensure that the FTC holds Your Baby Can Read accountable for deceiving parents.
Please take a moment to urge the FTC to stop Your Baby Can Read from luring babies to screens under false pretenses and to compensate parents who were deceived by its marketing.
Your Baby Can Read is advertised extensively on television and on the web. Like Baby Einstein, its marketing is designed to take advantage of parents’ natural inclinations to give children every possible advantage. Much of the marketing is targeted to parents of disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds for whom Your Baby Can Read’s hefty price tag represents a significant sacrifice. Your Baby Can Read pressures parents by urging them to seize a “short window of opportunity” for reading that begins in infancy despite that there is no evidence that any such “window” exists—or to support any of Your Baby Can Read’s pseudoscientific claims.
According to literacy experts who have examined Your Baby Can Read!, the program does not teach actual reading; at best, it’s memorization. Even though babies and toddlers may recognize written words, their brains aren’t developed enough to actually learn to read. Nor is there evidence that babies who watch the videos are better readers later on.
It is particularly egregious that Your Baby Can Read targets babies as young as three months. If parents follow the viewing instructions, their baby will have watched more than 200 hours of Your Baby Can Read by the age of nine months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under age two. Research has linked infant screen time to sleep disturbances and delayed language acquisition, as well as problems in later childhood such as poor school performance and childhood obesity.
That’s why—whether you’ve purchased Your Baby Can Read or not—the FTC needs to hear from you. And please urge your friends and family to weigh in as well.