1. Raven
    Offline

    Raven Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Messages:
    9,755
    Likes Received:
    68
    Location:
    The NetherWorld

    Psychologist warns of "educational television" myth

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Raven, Feb 12, 2008.

    He's been characterised as the ultimate killjoy, the extremist fringe thinker who refuses to recognise the realities of modern life.

    But for Dr Aric Sigman, an American psychologist living in Britain and the author of "Remotely Controlled: How Television is Damaging Our Lives", the battle against what he calls the "recreational junk food" of TV is one well worth fighting.

    And as the BBC announced on Tuesday the launch of the nation's first ever television quiz show for pre-school children, Sigman's frustration with TV executives who claim to entertain and educate is growing.

    "Television-makers will always justify themselves by saying that children enjoy their programmes," Sigman told Reuters in an interview. "They say they make children smile and laugh."

    "But children will also smile if you give them cocaine. The argument that children enjoy something or laugh at something is not the basis on which you decide what is good for them."

    The BBC's new show, "Kerwhizz", which it describes as a "new breakthrough multi-platform entertainment format" aimed at 4- to 6-year-olds is a perfect example, says Sigman, of another common claim by television makers: Our programmes are educational.

    "The phrase 'educational television' was, of course, invented by people who make television," he says. "To me it's an oxymoron".

    According to Sigman, who bases his assertions on studies published by medics from some of America's leading universities as well as his own worldwide research, science now suggests the quality of television children watch is of little consequence.

    He points to the Tellytubbies, the globally successful toddler TV series hailed for its innovation and educational value, but also the subject of several warning studies including one by two Harvard academics entitled "Say No To Tellytubbies".

    "Medical evidence is growing that for young children, being exposed to TV, computers and DVDs, -- irrespective of the quality of the programme -- has an impact on their health and development," he said.

    "There is a definite inverse relationship between time spent watching any kind of television or screen when you are young and your ability to read and concentrate when you are older."

    With the BBC billing its new pre-school quiz as being "visually stunning and packed with gags" -- and adding that it was "designed with the assistance of teachers" -- Sigman bemoans a lack of confidence among parents and child carers in their own ability to entertain and engage children.

    Studies of brain activity have shown that a child doing simple mental arithmetic with coloured counters or beans has greater blood flow to the brain than one engaged what may look like a far more complex computer game, he says.

    And it may be precisely the complexity -- the speed of edits, the colours and sounds and speeds children's media -- that is having a detrimental effect on their brain development.

    "It may well be that your child learns from the TV that a certain country is in Africa, but that may well also come at the cost of doing something to their attention span," he said.

    "Whereas if a parent is talking their children about geography or nature, they can learn without that risk and will physically exercise their brains in the process."

    Sigman freely admits he has a TV at home -- only one -- which his children watch occasionally, but insists society is wrong to chastise as "kill-joys" the relatively few parents who ban television altogether, or allow only a few hours a week.

    "My children have candy sometimes, and television is just like candy, it's recreational junk food," he said. "But it's a complete myth that children somehow inherently need TV -- otherwise they would be born with a television built into their stomachs, just like the Tellytubbies".
     
  2. The Freshmaker
    Offline

    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2006
    Messages:
    1,784
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    St. Petersburg, FL
    I really try to avoid television. I notice that when I watch it more often, I have shorter attention spans, and tend to forget things.

    In addition, I feel like television kills our creativity by telling us what to think. Or maybe I'm just paranoid.

    I confine myself to the news and the History channel, if I have to watch TV. Sometimes I'll leave Turner Classic Movies on if I'm alone in the house. It's comforting.
     
  3. lordofhats
    Offline

    lordofhats Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    2,023
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    The Hat Cave
    BLAH. Don't get me starte don the history channel. There is no more history. Just band of brothers, monster quest, conspiracy and end of the world theories and UFO's. The history channela dn the sci fi channel need a merger.
     
  4. lessa
    Offline

    lessa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Fantasy land
    "But it's such a good babysitter and at least my kids are not out on the street getting into trouble."

    I hear that excuse from mothers all the time.
    I think that is a load of horse buns, but then those same people say that I was a terrible mother taking babies on canoe trips and teaching them to shoot guns.
    Instead of TV I used books as baby sitters. Worked fine boys learned to read at an early age and still love books.
    I know I was a stay at home mom and so many mothers have to work now but I still don't think TV is the way to go.
    Educational or not. Kids still need supervision when watching.
     
  5. ValianceInEnd
    Offline

    ValianceInEnd Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,670
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona.
    Hmm, this is truely an interesting point. The only time I watch tv personally is when I'm sick or watching movies. I mostly use the computer, and this makes me think twice about using the computer as much as I have.
     
  6. andycerrone
    Offline

    andycerrone Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Cambridge, Ma. Soon Florence, Italy
    As a teacher, I am going to agree with this article. TV does offer the possibility of a leviathan for education, but rarely will fulfill that. In fact, it probably never will. Students have extremely short attention spans, and have no interest in learning (especially in urban areas like here).

    This is an actual conversation I overheard in my JUNIOR level class:
    Kid A: Hey man, what are you doing, you KNOW you can't read.
    Kid B: Dude... (turns book upside down and begins laughing)... better?
    Kid A: At least you're being honest.

    Kid B has a third grade reading level. Kid A has a fifth grade. Welcome to the most educated part of the country, the Boston metropolitan area. Parents need to take responsibility for their children and become more involved. Our schools are FALLING APART. There is no money for paper or chalk, there is NOTHING.

    When I do become a parent, my kids are only watching the above stated channels, my collection of movies, and are being raised on books and experiences.
     
  7. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I don't see television as a huge waste of time. The kids discuss the shows they see, which I view as a positive aspect. But I also think it's important for parents to discuss what they see on television with their kids.

    My kids had no restrictions of their television viewing. They are both avid readers as well, and extremely creative.

    Television makes a good scapegoat, though, because it rarely responds when you criticise it. Parents are much better at finding every excuse in the book for their noninvolvement with their children.
     
  8. lessa
    Offline

    lessa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Fantasy land
    When I do become a parent, my kids are only watching the above stated channels, my collection of movies, and are being raised on books and experiences.[/QUOTE]

    famous last words.
    every soon to be parent says much the same thing.
    Then life takes over.
    It is impossible to stop a child from watching tv. it is in the schools, their friends homes and the more you say no the more they are going to rebel.
    There has to be a balance of tv, computer books and imagination.
    Imagination taking the biggest part since you can use it in books tv and the computer.
    If you isolate your children from the shows you see as unfit but their friends are watching them you are isolating your children from their friends.
    If you think a show is not a good one for them to watch offer an alternative show of a similar type. Or sit and watch it with your child. Who knows you may change your mind.
    The best way to get a child to read a book is to put it on a shelf too high for them and tell them not to.
    The best way to get them not wanting to watch a show is to sit with them and discuss it. It takes on a form of a lesson and who wants a lesson when they sit to watch tv.
    There is good and bad in almost everything in the world and it is up to the parents (who more often than not pass the buck) to set the limits of how much bad their children can have.
     
  9. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    sounds like a pretty smart bloke, t'me... too bad he's bucking the big guys and won't get anywhere...
     
  10. ValianceInEnd
    Offline

    ValianceInEnd Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,670
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona.
    That seems a bit harsh to me. I think kids have the right to watch tv and when they're old enough any movie they want to. Still, there should be limits in a household.
     
  11. andycerrone
    Offline

    andycerrone Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Cambridge, Ma. Soon Florence, Italy
    Well.. they can watch tv.. except it's going to be whatever channels come in for free, cause I'm not getting any cable or satellite channeling. I'm not big on TV, the girl isn't, there's no need to pay an extra $40 a month for something we won't use.
     
  12. ValianceInEnd
    Offline

    ValianceInEnd Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,670
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona.
    A valid point. A lot of cable tv is a major waste of time (except for the discovery channel! :p)
     
  13. andycerrone
    Offline

    andycerrone Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Cambridge, Ma. Soon Florence, Italy
    Man, they got all of that on dvd nowadays... when I used to do more drugs I'd space out and watch the underwater stuff for like, days on end. It was great. :D
     

Share This Page