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There are many visual stimulation videos on youtube which most infants would love to stare at.

Does this help in cognitive development?

I have read in some journals that, on the contrary, for young children visual games etc may be responsible for cognitive impairment.

So how safe it is to show these high contrast weird videos to infants?

Are there any studies on this topic?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

There are several reasons not to do that:

  • Infants have very simple minds that can easily be overloaded by too much information. A psychedelic, high-contrast video can do more harm than good.

  • Infants develop best, if more/all senses are used together. That is why those famous toys you hang over their beds look funny, play music and are in range for the toddler to touch. A simple video is a very poor choice for stimulation and learning.

  • A video is 2D and will not help (or might even hinder) 3D recognition.

Under normal circumstances an hour in a park (or nature if you happen have some around) is one of the best things to do if you want to stimulate your infant's senses. Let him see the scene, touch things, listen to the sound of nature, smell flowers and taste (some ;)) things. Then grant him/her time to sleep so his/her brain can process the information.

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Baby Einstein, which used to hold 90% of the "Educational" video market, was forced to offer refunds (link) and change their advertising to reflect that their products do nothing. This article cites The Journal of Pediatrics when stating that "for every hour of baby-video viewing per day, children ages 8 to 16 months knew six to eight fewer words than those who watched no videos."

Based upon that, I would assume the Youtube videos are similarly useless. The big difference is that Baby Einstein was owned by Disney, so was easy to sue.

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can you add in the reason behind this un intuitive result! and Thanks! – parenting101 Apr 4 '14 at 20:11
Small clarification: It's not easy to sue Disney. They have an army of lawyers. :) – DA01 Apr 10 '14 at 15:34

More from Wired in 2011 supporting the study mentioned above.

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Certainly, the visual stimulation videos help in cognitive development and there are plenty of researches on this. Nevertheless, we often try to look so far that we ignore a puddle that's very near!

The visual things (videos, games or the like) help in cognitive development. However, in the question, OP's confused about videos for infants or for kids. As the title reads infants (and that's why I answered that way) and in question body 'kids' cognitive development is mentioned!' Certainly, infants' eyes are more delicate and sensitive as compared to kids. Anyway, Ali asked me about the research and here it is.

I personally believe that babies should be kept away from LED, LCDs or for that sake, any monitor emitting rays. No matter how great claims are made by the manufacturers, babies' eyes are delicate, too delicate and sensitive. I personally would avoid this. Cognitive development over weakened eyes is not any parents would want, do they?

Now about cognitive development -this can happen in number of ways not necessarily in the monitors! There are toys and games available that help them learn better things. The children in ancient days too were witty without any electronic gadget. The cognitive development does come through observation, inherent capability of grasping things and above all, the way the thing is taught or represented.

I DO NOT DENY that such videos are not useful. The method is very useful but the medium is not suitable at that tender age. Let them grow a bit, their sight become stronger and their eyes' development mature enough to catch the rays. And hardly, it'll take a year or two. In addition, at that age too, I'd recommend the monitors to be kept as far as possible. First eyes then intellect! (I have had -5 number glasses since my childhood and I know how poor sight makes our lives).

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can you cite the research – parenting101 Apr 4 '14 at 20:12
@Ali which research? babies' eyes get affected by LED/LCD rays? you really require an evidence? – Maulik V Apr 6 '14 at 12:42
you said it helps in cognitive development – parenting101 Apr 6 '14 at 18:44
research = hypothesis + test. Opinion = Opinion. A peer-reviewed test done by a reputable and independent organisation trumps opinion. In this case, the research showed these videos impair cognitive development. – dave Apr 6 '14 at 23:56

I'm sure, like most things in life moderation is key. A small amount of visual stimulus cant really be all that harmful or detrimental to the development of an infant so long as the baby is exposed to other things as well.

Although some light is clearly emitted from an lcd or led monitor I'm not entirely sure they are at all harmful buy I know calling them "rays" implies something far more sinister.

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Do you have any evidence for this beyond your personal opinion? – Mark Oct 10 '15 at 18:47

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