Television tunnel vision

This week’s Nature has a feature article on how visual motion media impacts on young children. It’s an interesting article because it focuses largely on television.

This is notable for two reasons: the first is that numerous research studies have found that, as a generalisation, watching television negatively impacts on children’s concentration, increases the risk of obesity and interferes with play and communication. The second is that this rarely makes the headlines.

Despite studies appearing regularly in the medical literature, it simply isn’t fashionable to panic about television – that’s so last century.

In contrast, evidence-free panicking about computers or the internet gets broadcast across the world, because it’s something new to panic about, and that’s what the media does best.

It’s not all bad news about television and children though. There’s some evidence that it increases imaginative play and broadens knowledge.

You also may be interested to know that Sesame Street was developed with psychologists to specifically help children improve social attitudes and increase numeracy and literacy.

The programme has been carefully and scientifically evaluated, tweaked and re-evaluated and many of the studies appear in the academic literature. It was the first and most successful evidence-based children’s programme.

Link to Nature article ‘Media research: The black box’.

One Comment

  1. Enterhase
    Posted June 11, 2009 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s evident that problems began when Seinfeld ended.
    Great to hear that about Sesame Street, though.


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