The other day I got a large (and completely) unsolicited envelope in the mail from a company called Infoture, Inc. Infoture has developed a hot new product that will make your baby above average in every way.
I'll let them sum up how this will happen. From the flier:
"The groundbreaking research of Dr. Betty Hart and Dr. Todd Risely proved that the single most powerful action you can take -- more than using flashcards or electronic learning toys -- is to talk with and to your child. And the number of words your child hears is a vital factor in determining future educational, emotional and social success."
Makes sense, right? Talking to your kids is good. Never mind that Hart wand Risely's study focused on inner city kids who came from homes where their parents were barely around, much less talking to them, so any communication with an adult lead to vast leaps in cognitive ability. We can still all agree that talking to your kids is good.
The LENA system, for a mere $99 a month (or $1188 in one lump) will provide you with a cigarette-sized recorder that you slip into a pocket of your baby's clothes (and, for $32-$36 more, you can buy some of the special LENA clothes with special LENA pockets). Also included is speech recognition software and the online database with which to analyze it. In short, "LENA counts and analyzes the number of words you and your child speak to each other. So you know with confidence that your child's development is in the target zone -- and you can relax and enjoy your baby even more."
Yes, because it is clearly not enough to simply relax and enjoy your baby without buying more stuff to lull you into a false sense of security...
The LENA people also provide a chart. If your kid hears 8624 words per day, it'll have an IQ of 79; 17, 514 equals an IQ of 107. If you're shooting high -- 30, 142 gets you an IQ of 117. Which, incidentally, won't even get you into MENSA or most gifted and talented secondary school programs.
Frankly, the mind reels. I'm still not sure that this isn't some kind of elaborate sham, a mockumentary, if you will, of all of the parenting gizmos that promote the obvious. The language is almost too perfect. Like the pitch letter's PS: "This is the optimal time to help your child meet his or her full potential." And I can also get a 10 percent discount if I call right now.
Most of me hopes that it's a Penn-and-Teller-esque "Bullshit" scenario, where hidden cameras will show how well-meaning parents can be suckered into almost anything. I strongly suspect that it isn't, however and that Infoture will make a nice chunk of money preying on parents' worst fears abotu not doing enough to help their children.
*It appears that to access these sites, you need an offer code. I'm not sure I get the reasoning behind a company who is selling a product restricting access to promotional information about that product. If I'm selling, say, Hondas, I don't hide all of my pitch material behind a code that is available to people who already have received a flier about Hondas, right? Or am I missing something here?