/PRNewswire/ -- A couple years ago, lead paint in toys manufactured in China sent parents searching frantically for gifts made in the USA. This fall, news of Baby Einstein refunds suggested that even so-called educational toys are suspect. Renowned parenting expert Dr. Jeffrey Fine, Ph.D., says that such videos are actually harmful to developing brains, retarding language development and shortening attention spans. Moreover, there is an increased sense of separation, which is the defining trait of each of this holiday season's most harmful gifts.
A psychologist with 30 years' experience and founder and director of the American Foundation for Conscious Parenting, Dr. Fine specializes in ways modern life devalues parent and child relationships and desensitizes children in the process. Whether parents use videos as "electronic babysitters" for toddlers, purchase paintball guns for preteens, or buy games which encourage teenagers to earn points by killing others, they are feeding into an increasingly toxic culture, while contributing to rising rates of ADHD and violent and aggressive behavior in children.
According to Dr. Fine, "Today's lifestyle is one of separation, and people don't have the ability to be intimate. Videos and video games increase this sense of isolation, and can have long-lasting devastating effects." Saying that parents should encourage low-tech creative play, which boosts imagination and problem-solving, he also targets toys which decrease physical activity and limit social interaction, such as the exercise bike/video game combo, the Smart Cycle, which, like Baby Einstein, has a name which can be misleading.
This Christmas, dehumanization of "the other" has taken an especially violent turn, says Dr. Fine, with the addition of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which is expected to become a bestseller, despite controversy over graphic scenes depicting the slaughter of innocents. And while it's no surprise that games like Grand Theft Auto have been desensitizing teens to violence for years, some games, such as Lego's Batman video game, even encourage preschoolers to engage in violent behavior.
A member of the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health and former student of the famed Joseph Chilton Pearce, Dr. Fine (who is also co-author of THE ART OF CONSCIOUS PARENTING: The Natural Way To Give Birth, Bond With, And Raise Healthy Children, which he wrote with his wife, Dalit Fine, M.S.), adds that there are plenty of age-appropriate toys which benefit children and counsels parents to choose gifts which increase family bonding time.
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