It has come to our attention that some of you didn’t get the memo, oh, a couple of centuries ago explaining that not all products live up to their marketing claims. That’s right, we don’t mean to alarm you, but those before-and-after cellulite cream photos may have undergone a little doctoring, your pet may not love you for purchasing the Snuggie for Dogs, and, sadly, even with a tub of Floam in your hands, the fun is eventually going to stop.

We offer this friendly reminder because right now, money is rushing from the Walt Disney Co.’s coffers like cockroaches from the amazing Pestfree Ultrasonic. In response to pressure from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the company is offering refunds on its wildly popular Baby Einstein videos in what amounts to an admission that the products do not make children smarter.

This is a worthy (and shrewd) gesture from a company that can certainly afford to cut a few million checks, but do they really owe consumers a refund?

There are, undoubtedly, parents out there who would not otherwise have let their children near a TV set before age 2, who earnestly added the videos to their formidable arsenal of educational tools, pushing aside concerns about television and toddlers as they studied the claims on the backs of the cases, carefully carving out time for a showing of Baby Beethoven and a healthy organic snack between well-supervised play dates and family visits to the local museum.

We sincerely hope those two people get their $15.99 back without delay.

For most parents, though, the Baby Einstein products are the equivalent of those Snackwell cookies that were so popular during the low-fat craze of the 1990s: a way to feel a little less guilty about something we already do. According to a group called Common Sense Media, 61 percent of babies under 2 spend time in front of a screen. Another study finds that children watch an average of four hours of television per day: It’s hard to imagine the parents of this average American couch potato dutifully marking the American Academy of Pediatricians’ recommendations on their calendar and waiting till the appointed date before plunking them down in front of the tube for a Barney marathon.

The fact is, that gushy dinosaur would have gone extinct by now if the vast majority of parents didn’t rely on their TV sets – at least occasionally – for a few moments of peace.

Of course, Disney, being Disney, had to turn the all-too-common practice into a fairy tale by conjuring up some evidence that those moments in front of the screen could actually be enriching ones in a child’s life – if only their parents cared enough to scoop up the Baby Einstein merchandise.

And consumers, being consumers, gobbled it up, complicit in varying degrees in our own deception – until the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood came galloping in to save the day. But is the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood any match for Disney’s Campaign for a Guilt-Free Parenthood?

The group is doing our country a worthy service by pointing out the ways in which television and advertising affect our kids. But it’s adults, of course, they’ll have to convince – the same adults who spend billions of dollars a year on teeth whiteners and hair re-growth products and the newest crop of exercise machines.

Yes, we’ll happily send away for our refund, and with any luck we’ll get it in time to buy that new Disney movie that just came out on DVD.

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Source: Concord Monitor –