Monday, May 07, 2007

TV is bad . . . or maybe not

I'm not entirely disagreeing with recent studies (summarized here) that TV is generally bad but I do wonder about the results for teens. Notice that teens who watch a lot of TV "at mean age 14 years [are] associated with elevated risk for subsequent frequent attention difficulties, frequent failure to complete homework assignments, frequent boredom at school, failure to complete high school, poor grades, negative attitudes about school (i.e., hates school), overall academic failure in secondary school and failure to obtain post-secondary (e.g., college, university, training school) education." At age 14 I was bored with school which lead to significant increase in attention difficulties and failure to complete homework, not to mention lower grades than I had previously attained. I did get past this boredom and have since earned some post-secondary education so I don't fit the type entirely. Still, I wonder whether school, which exists in a print world, is the most accurate measure of the effects of video? The study assumes that print and thought processes associated with it are the measure of health and well being. Perhaps they aren't.

Case in point. I hung out with a great teen last week. I've watched him grow up and he is not so enthralled with school. He has engaged in risky behaviour etc., which certainly drives his parents crazy but sort of endears him to others. He showed me a video that he was in the process of making which was frankly pretty amazing. He not only had organized his friends, swindled a camera, secured sets (including the inside of a working jail!), come up with the story and was in the process of editing it - he did all of these things well. One scene paid homage to a Batman comic book but the homage went beyond rote repitition to creative engagement. Here is a kid who fits all of the categories negatively associated with TV, making his mark in video. Why fight it? Why not let him do what he does, encourage him to learn and grow in the medium that he most naturally fits into? Luckily for him, his parents are by sending him to film school, but how many 'deviant' kids could push the boundaries of new media but are stuck in a culture dominated by print?



Anonymous Matt Schultz said...

Blair - Have you read "Everything Bad is Good for You"? I read only a litle before I gavce it away to someone.... But the little I read was pretty good.

10:26 a.m., May 10, 2007  
Blogger blair said...

M - Not yet but I just put it on my list and requested it from the public library. Thanks for the tip.

11:12 a.m., May 10, 2007  

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