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Children unplugged

August 23, 2007

Re "The glories of kid vid," Opinion, Aug. 15

Bruce Kluger starts with the premise that videos for small children are good or at least harmless. Unfortunately, the facts are still there: Infants and toddlers learn fewer words the more they watch. As for his defense that children light up or sing while watching, he must know as a parent that children will light up or sing when they hear a parent's off-tune version of the "Itsy Bitsy Spider."

Unplugging our children might be inconvenient, but we should be making parenting decisions out of our desire to do what is best for our children, not what is most convenient for us.

Elizabeth Miller

Long Beach

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So Kluger vehemently supports the concept of DVDs and videotapes designed to be viewed by infants and toddlers -- not surprising, considering that he makes a living reviewing these products for a magazine. But no matter how well-intentioned these programs are, we are programming children practically from birth to become enamored of watching television. Will your child's brain turn to mush if he watches a little TV once in awhile? Probably not.

And yes, it is preferable for kids to watch Barney the Dinosaur rather than "The Sopranos." Television isn't pure evil. What the researchers may be trying to say is that if you need 10 minutes to take a shower and the only way to get it is to pop in the "Baby Einstein" DVD, go ahead, but don't believe for one minute that your baby is any smarter for it.

Laurie Orr

Encinitas

--Apparently the recent research makes Kluger feel like a bad parent. In his defensive article, he credits said programming with such beautiful moments in childhood development as Barney-induced worlds of make-believe, Teletubby-inspired cooking and children clapping and singing to something called the Wiggles.

My wife and I have been stay-at-home parents, we don't own a TV (no, I'm not being smug), and yet we somehow manage to inspire all those moments and more in our 17-month-old with quaint, old-fashioned things like books and an acoustic guitar.

The fact that it isn't obvious to a parent -- and a writer for Parenting magazine, no less -- that it's bad to bombard your child's very new brain with DVDs and television simply astounds me.

Jason M. Miller

Long Beach

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