How much did the babies learn?
The babies who watched the video, either alone or with a parent, did not learn any more new words than those in the control condition without any intervention, despite watching the video 20 times over the course of a month. This means that the video did not teach the babies any of the new words. The finding may be especially surprising given that parents reported the babies loved the videos and were certainly paying attention to them. One parent even noted:
“She loves the blasted thing. It’s crack for babies!”
The babies who learned the most were those in the parent-teaching condition.
Parents’ perceptions of the videos
The researchers asked the parents questions about the videos at the end of the experiment. They found that parents’ judgments about how much their babies learned from the videos were unrelated to how many words they actually learned. Their judgments were, however, related to how much the parents indicated they liked the videos. In other words, the more the parent liked the video, the more the parent thought their child learned from the video (even though this learning judgment was not at all related to actual learning). This finding follows a trend we often see in the literature, where perceptions about learning, unfortunately, do not match what is actually helping us learn.
These videos may help parents get things done around the house, and this can be very valuable (self-care and the mental health of parents is important!). However, to really teach our littlest family members new words, good old-fashioned parent teaching is best.