Maggie Van Ostrand
afraid. Be very afraid. There's a new show on Direct TV aimed at 0-3
Baby TV was free during the month of May, after which a monthly fee
of $9.99 is required. Baby TV's website states: "A 24 hour television
channel for infants and toddlers under 3 years old. Contains no commercials,
no advertisements, and no promotions. Designed to enhance development
and learning. Encourages parent - baby interaction ... for a pleasant
experience in parenthood."
How nice, how considerate, perhaps even noble, you might be thinking.
But, if you check their website (http://www.BabyFirstTV.com), you'll
find that Baby TV's Board of Directors is comprised of men and women
who have or are working for big corporations like De Beers diamond
brokers; Columbia Pictures; a real estate development and acquisitions
corporation; Time-Warner; the largest cellular operator in Israel;
and an advertising executive whose accounts included those of PepsiCo,
Kimberly-Clark, and Hertz. The latter executive is also an expert
on market research.
Are you wondering how long it will be until commercials, or the somewhat-less-invasive
"product placements," are included on Baby TV shows? How about after
the infant to 3-year olds become addicted to it? Are you getting a
little scared now?
| Baby TV, whose
motto is, "Watch your baby blossom," is not without immediately apparent
benefits such as keeping your baby occupied while you do other household
chores. It would be difficult to shy away from something that appears
to be educational at best, and a built-in babysitter at least.
Except it could teach your baby things that might result in unhealthy
attitudes later on in life. For example, the United States has the
largest population of obese children in the world. Yet Baby TV shows
the delights of ice cream, and even shows how to lick an ice cream
cone properly, along with appealing illustrations and photographs
of cones, sundaes, and sodas, accompanied by interspersed films of
a young woman miming how to lick a cone properly. Icccceeeee Crrrreeeaaaammm,
is murmured, much as one would say Yummmmmmm.
Another questionable segment, which Baby TV considers "rich, innovative
educational content designed to enhance baby's development in a delightful
and engaging way," shows a cartoon square divided into four closed
doors. A soothing voice intones how we learn about things that are
"different." The first door opens revealing a white sheep. The voice
tells us this is a white sheep. The second door opens revealing another
white sheep. The voice tells us this is another white sheep. The third
door opens revealing a third white sheep. The voice tells us this
is another white sheep. The fourth door opens revealing a black sheep.
The voice tells us this sheep is different.
If you are still wondering what there is to be afraid of, the fact
that many of us who yearn for relief from baby talk and constant attention
to infants, will turn to Baby TV for help, only to later face the
results in the characters of our children.
It is bad enough to have Big Brother watching us. It is even worse
to have our babies watching him.
Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
June 1, 2006 column