One thousand: That’s approximately the number of instructional hours required of middle school and high school students in the United States each year.
Four thousand: That’s approximately the number of hours of digital media content that youths, ages eight to 18, consume and absorb each year in the United States.
Patricia Greenfield, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a pioneer in the study of the relationship between children and technology, is the author of Mind And Media: The Effects Of Television, Video Games And Computers. First published in 1984, the book was recently revised, updated and reprinted as a classic edition in honor of its 30th anniversary.
In her vast years of research that spans the pre-Internet era to present day, Greenfield has found that television, video games and computers can bolster development. It all depends on how the media are used, and how parents and educators interact with their children. Each medium has its own message. For example, print and radio provide an opportunity for reflection, serial processing and articulation, while TV and video games provide an opportunity for interactive learning and parallel learning.
Greenfield also raises important questions about the effect of different media on children and adolescents. Many children, who are turned off by school, are not turned off by one or another of the electronic media — quite the opposite, in fact. Greenfield contends that an ideal childhood learning environment includes a multimedia approach to learning.
Mind And Media is a fascinating and fast read that explores the different mediums, their strengths and weaknesses, and the contribution each one has on a child’s learning and development.
A copy of of Mind And Media: The Effects Of Television, Video Games And Computers is available at the Sullivan Library (call number: 302.2308 G837m).