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Disney's ingenious refund for Baby Einstein

October 26, 2009 |  4:49 pm

Einstein For any parents who are truly shocked and dismayed that propping their babies in front of a TV didn't result in child prodigies, the Walt Disney Company has good news: It is offering a $15.99 refund for Baby Einstein videos, up to four per customer.

The company says this is just its usual satisfaction-guaranteed sort of deal. Not exactly. The videos for this refund could have been purchased at any time and used till they wore out. Receipts not required.

The videos have been the subject of complaints and a threatened lawsuit by an advocacy group called Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, which contended that contrary to the company's early claims that Baby Einstein would enhance child development, watching TV is actually detrimental to children younger than 2. The campaign had more going for its argument than Baby Einstein did, with the American Academy of Pediatrics taking a dim view of the under-2 set as a TV audience and several studies to back that up. The pitch for the videos' benefits softened in the last couple of years. 

Personally, I don't think an occasional half hour here or there of watching colorful images on TV does major harm to a baby. In fact, I see the value of video babysitting. Let's face it, the pediatrics academy isn't spending the entire day with a fussy infant. Parents need a break now and then, and if Baby Einstein keep Mom and Dad from totally losing it, I'll chalk that up as helpful to a child's development, though human interaction, play and an occasional really good burp probably do more for an infant's well-being. If anyone believed Disney had cued into a magic, painless way to create babies guaranteed to test into the Gifted and Talented Education program by third grade, their children's bigger problem wasn't in how many videos they watched, it was in their parents' DNA.

Photo credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

--Karin Klein

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