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Susan Linn's picture

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has filed a Federal Trade Commission Complaint against Your Baby Can Read! for false and deceptive marketing.  YBCR is a $200 video-based system that allegedly teaches babies as young as three months to read.   The Today show did a great story on our complaint, and we’re already hearing from parents who have been duped by the company.

Reading experts from around the country agree that baby’s brains aren’t even developed enough to learn to read.  Reading is more than memorizing what a word looks like on a flashcard—it requires comprehension.

Like other baby media companies, Your Baby Can Read exploits our natural tendency to want what’s best for our children. There is no evidence that babies learn anything—let alone a complex skill like reading—from videos. And in addition to conning parents out of $200, Your Baby Can Read’s false and deceptive marketing may be putting babies at risk.

The complaint is part of our ongoing effort to stop baby media companies from marketing their products as educational.  Last year, we successfully persuaded the Walt Disney Company to stop marketing Baby Einstein as educational, and to offer refunds to parents who believed their claims.

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.  If parents follow Your Baby Can Read’s viewing instructions, their baby will have watched more than 200 hours by the age of nine months—spending more than one full week of 24-hour days in front of a screen.  Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under age two.

The last thing babies need is to be drilled with flash cards and to watch videos.  It’s particularly worrisome that screen time takes away from the two activities known to be educational—time with caring adults and hands-on creative play.  Babies learn in the context of loving relationships, and with all of their senses.  Yet, 19% of babies under the age of one have a television in their bedroom and 40% of 3-month-olds are regular viewers of television.  And we all know that screen time is habituating.  The more time babies spend with screens, the harder it is for them to turn them off when they’re older.

If you bought Your Baby Can Read and you’re dissatisfied, or if you’re outraged on behalf of parents who bought the product, please click here to let the FTC know that you want Your Baby Can Read to stop its deceptive marketing and compensate parents who shelled out $200 believing they were doing the best for their children.

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