Monday, December 11, 2006

Is TV Bad for the Brain?

Michael Shayer, Professor of Applied Psychology at King’s College London, claims that 11 and 12-year-olds are now two to three years behind where they were 15 years go in terms of cognitive and conceptual development. In his volume and heaviness test, children are asked to hold a brass block and a Plasticine block of identical size, one in each hand. In 1976, 57 per cent of boys and 27 per cent of girls realised that the Plasticine block would displace the same amount of water, if immersed, as the brass block. Thirty years later only 17 per cent of either sex get it right. That is a staggering change. But Professor Shayer is reluctant to speculate on the causes. He thinks a decline in hands-on play, more TV and less outside play space may be factors. But he is not sure.

If the screen is a problem, why can’t adults just switch it off? You don’t need a “conceptual framework” to find the off button. What comes through every discussion on this subject is the extraordinary weakness of parents, who simply can’t face the hassle of saying no. And when they try, they face increasingly strong resistance. For the real, hidden danger of many TV channels and video games is that they are designed to feed an anti-authority culture.

Sue Palmer’s book Toxic Childhood quotes the psychologist Mark Crispin-Miller: “It’s part of the official advertising world view that your parents are creeps, teachers are weirdos and idiots, authority figures laughable and nobody can really understand children except the corporate sponsor.” This may sound overblown, unless you’ve watched Nickelodeon. The Rugrats are pulling the rug from under parents who weren’t too sure of their footing anyway. Guess which TV character a recent BBC poll of 5,000 parents found was the “role model” who most influenced their children? Gulp. Bart Simpson.

Are Parents the Poisoners? (Times Online)

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salaam. I think the American diet chock full of chemicals and preservatives of every kind is also to be implicated in this change. Another condition known as Carbohydrate Addiction could possibly be a fact as well.

10:48 pm  
Blogger zanjabil said...

Salaam. Yes, and lack of exercise doesn't help matters either!

12:06 am  

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