August 08, 2007

The New News (Google Comments & my own)

A story recently came out about Baby Einstein in the newspapers. They cited the "Journal of Pediatrics" for publishing a story on the paradoxical effect of educational DVDs with children under 24 months. These infants understood fewers words than children of parents who read to them, according to Clinical Cases and Images. CCaI went on to claim that many official news sources failed to link their online articles to the original study and in fact, the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine was the publisher.

However, when I read the article that CCaI posted, it did not coincide with the information suggested in the original articles. It proves CCaI's point though... check your sources! ;-)

In related news, google news is adding the ability to comment on news -- if you are a part of the news story. This has the potential to provide rebuttals (as seen by McDonald's in response to astudy that kids find carrots and veggies wrapped in McD packaging tastier). It has the potential to provide further information DIRECTLY FROM THE SOURCE (as seen in the FDA approval for a new HIV-drug Selzentry.)

I think that the internet will revolutionize how we receive our news. After all, I learned about all of these stories through Clinical Cases and Images... a blog targetted to educating IM residents in the Cleveland Clinic. Unless traditional newspapers can adapt, adopt and become adept with new technology, they will swiftly find themselves outstripped by other alternative news sources.

[edit] Hm... Medgadget provides a little more info from the original Times article, confirming CCaI's reference.
Led by Frederick Zimmerman and Dr. Dimitri Christakis, both at the University of Washington, the research team found that with every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form. "The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew," says Christakis. "These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos."

However, the article does not make the bold claims that the authors suggested... or maybe I'm reading it wrong.

Television and DVD/Video Viewing in Children Younger Than 2 Years
Frederick J. Zimmerman, PhD; Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH; Andrew N. Meltzoff, PhD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161:473-479.Time Magazine reports on the findings that the popular Baby Einstein video series, meant for infants, lacks scientific merit when it comes to spoken word, and seems to actually do harm.

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