In the Loop

In the Loop: November 11, 2008 Archive

Now I'm really confused: There's a TV network specifically *for* babies?

Posted at 12:31 PM on November 11, 2008 by Jeff Horwich (5 Comments)

The Dow is down, American automakers are screwed, a new president is facing the biggest challenges in a generation. But I'm still thinking about my kid and TV. Really long-term priorities, you know?

For some reason Sanden got a mass PR email the other day celebrating two years of "BabyFirstTV." It's an ad-free cable network with non-stop programming intended for babies six months and up.

I've written about this twice recently: The debate over how much TV, if any, is OK for my infant son. He definitely seems to like it -- but some of you have made the rather sound point that this could be a bad thing.

BabyFirstTV is kind of mind-blowing. On the one hand, their central argument makes sense:

[With studies showing] up to 90% of children under two are watching TV, BabyFirstTV addresses this reality by providing quality programming developed under the guidance of nationally recognized pediatricians and child development experts.
(Black & White -- though BabyFirstTV advises us there's some other stuff in this clip as well)
When I see shows like "Black & White" (basically cute, high-contrast stuff moving across the screen -- see the video) and "Peekaboo - I See You" (which pretty much needs no explanation and looks to be just about as annoying as it sounds -- in other words, perfect for babies) it's clear this is not a sham. It's also notable and truly laudable that the network is entirely ad free.

On the other hand, WHY ARE YOU TEMPTING ME? One of the things that has been handy for keeping me from using the TV much for my boy is how very little out there applies to him. Some of the comments on my earlier blog posts helped me understand this. Even something like Big, Big World, which seems to appeal to him, is still probably too sophisticated. (I now have a bunch of recorded episodes of BBW that we save for very special occasions, like when company is coming in half-an-hour and we need to clean up the house.)

Now here comes this option with stuff that is temptingly "baby-safe." Is a half-hour of TV for my six-month old OK now, if it's this stuff? Is this a "life saver" (see the comments on that YouTube video) or the first step down a slippery slope that looks eerily like me watching Thundercats and eating junk food after school 20 years ago?

What am I to make of their "advisory board of child development experts?" Have these expert ostracized themselves from their field by signing on to an organization that asserts TV is OK for babies? (Should be worried that Doctor #1 holds a professorship at UCLA that is endowed by Mattel?)

Any BabyFirstTV users/fans/haters out there? What's your experience?

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