GymTrix Responds to Mindless Videos That Are Putting Babies and Toddlers at Risk

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Baby videos are marketed as educational tools, but actually are harming infants and toddlers. They are teaching young children a sedentary lifestyle opposed to a healthy routine, which involves movement. The practice of leaving children in front of a television without human interaction for hours will limit their vocabulary and deter their language development.

GymTrix Toddler Video

Sedentary children become sedentary adults. The time to learn skills for life-long health is infancy and childhood.

GymTrix, an advocate for active lifestyle for young children, has recently reacted to a current study conducted by the University of Washington (UW) revealing shocking information regarding television viewing and its effects on infant development.

Research, conducted by Drs. Fredrick J. Zimmerman, Dimitri A. Christakis and Andrew N. Meltzoff from UW, stated that 90 percent of children ages 2 to 24 months watch an average of 1.5 hours of television a day. It was determined that this can have damaging effects on cognitive development, speech skills in particular.

The television and media programs specified in the study are designed to educate children. Instead, they cause adverse affects. Infant videos or DVDs and educational television shows are two examples.

Telephone survey data of 1,009 families from Minnesota and Washington state was used as the basis of the study. Parents of children ages 2 to 24 months were provided with a series of 90 to 100 words and were asked if their child used or identified them. Parents were also given four categories of television and were asked to report their child's typical viewing pattern.

Results revealed that with every hour spent watching baby videos or DVDs, infants understood six to eight fewer words than those who did not watch them. Although the study did not explicitly state that educational videos are harmful to children, they do inhibit them from interaction.

These videos and DVDs were specifically targeted due to the lack of dialogue in the productions. Many include choppy scenes and images that babies cannot relate to or attempt to mimic. Other programs are crafted to foster learning for preschoolers, not infants.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under 2 years of age should not be exposed to any media outlet. Television, videos, and DVDs prevent the proper amount of human interaction, which is an essential part of the development of children's cognitive and linguistic skills.

"Parents and caretakers are the baby's first and best teachers," Meltzoff said. "Watching attention-getting DVDs and TV may not be an even swap for warm social human interaction at this very young age."

Against this advisement, 40 percent of our nation's infants begin to regularly view television, DVDs, and videos by 3 months of age. "There are only a fixed amount of hours that young babies are awake and alert. If the 'alert time' is spent in front of the DVDs and TV instead of with people speaking 'parentese' the babies are not getting the same linguistic experience," Meltzoff said.

The study was further explained when a debate between Christaki and the founder of one of the largest infant video production companies was aired on NBC's " [The Today Show __title__ AllDay: Stop Training Infants to be Smart]" on August 8, 2007. The founder referred to the videos as "digital board books," and explained they were meant to act as an interactive tool between parent and child.

In addition to limiting cognitive development, such programs hinder physical activity and interaction. Team building and social skills, such as vocabulary levels, are not developed as a result of the captive audience these DVDs and videos create. This tends to cause a bout of inactivity and promotes laziness. Children become accustomed to this inactive state and are no longer challenged physically or mentally.

Instead of allowing children to grow used to sedentary activity, parents should be encouraging their children to become involved. Physical fitness is just as important to brain development as educational tools -- even for infants and toddlers. In order to become more active learners and begin to live a healthier lifestyle at a younger age, children need to be taught the basics of movement.

Doreen Bolhuis and Cynthia Kay have taken an active approach toward teaching what they refer to as "physical literacy." Bolhuis, founder of Gymco, and Kay, owner of Cynthia Kay and Company Media Production, believe children need to get off the sidelines. "Instead of watching educational videos and spending hours glued to the screen, children of all ages need activity and interaction with people who care about them. They need to explore their world in 3-D," Kay explains.

Bolhuis and Kay feel that many parents do not realize how important motion and physical activity is for their children. Bolhuis notes, "There is a huge body of research that substantiates the fact that babies' brains develop through movement and physical activity. But it goes beyond that. Physical activity helps control many of the conditions that plague us today including ADD, hyperactivity learning disabilities and depression."

As a solution to this problem the two have created "GymTrix." These programs are centered on children, starting at infancy and continuing through elementary school. They are family oriented, promote group participation, and emphasize the fact that physical activity can be done with common household items.

"GymTrix" was created to help foster brain development and with the intention of preventing children from becoming permanently sedentary. "If children do not develop motor skills, kinesthetic awareness, coordination and agility at a young age, they are disadvantaged when faced with the challenge of physical participation," Bolhuis states. "Sedentary children become sedentary adults. The time to learn skills for life-long health is infancy and childhood."

For additional and ordering information please visit the GymTrix website at:

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Erica M. Kusmierz
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