Wednesday, April 23, 2008

TV and Video games ~ finding balance

Lately,I have had reason to think more about the effects of TV and video games.

My very intelligent and gifted 8 year old would watch or play all day if I would allow it and I have to think about why. Why are these things so addictive? Why do they stir up so much emotion? Why do the kids who play these games still play them just as much (or more) when they are grown ups? I have decided that I won't get all of the answers. What matters is that I do the best thing for my kids with the information that I do have.

Here is what we are teaching Isaiah.

Video games/TV are frosting. Frosting tastes good,but if you eat too much it will make you sick!

The only way that you can eat frosting without getting a stomach ache is if you've already had a healthy meal. Pertaining to games/TV ,the meal is the substance of life,
i.e. work, exercise, reading, learning, family interaction....etc.. and always focus more on the meal than the frosting!

God gave as a huge world to explore and conquer. When your mind is absorbed into that box(screen),that becomes your world. I don't want my boy to live in such a tiny box!

The first thing that God told Humans to do was WORK. Working and accomplishing a goal is the only way to be satisfied. The attitude of Americans today is that our goal is to work as little as possible and satisfaction comes from playing.

Because we have a need to accomplish a goal/win ,playing a video game can bring about a false sense of accomplishment and pride. Thus the extreme emotion when one fails. If this is a young mans primary past-time, his connection and feelings will be very intense.

Watching TV satisfies our need to escape reality and to put our brains to sleep. Literally, studies have shown that the brains activity in both sleeping/watching TV to be the same!

So what is my point? I am not going to say that I will never let my kids have frosting.

I am saying that it shouldn't be a big part of life's diet and we should think about what amounts are healthy.

Here are some links and a few facts that I've found on the subject:

In a study of more than 1,000 families, U.S. researchers found that 40 per cent of three-month-olds and about 90 per cent of kids aged two years or younger regularly watch television, DVDs or videos. The study found that the infants and toddlers were spending up to 1 1/2 hours a day viewing television shows or DVDs, an activity the researchers say can be harmful to cognitive development.

"And the best available evidence to date suggests that certainly watching a lot of TV before the age of two is in fact harmful - harmful in terms of children's attentional abilities later in life, harmful in terms of their cognitive development, both of those measured at school entry."

"It's very attractive, but it's probably not as good for the child's brain as actively doing something and finding their own fun," Ford-Jones said Monday. "A child's mind at the earliest stages works in such an active way. They can be fascinated by things . . . They'd be better off with a cupboard full of pots and pans than they would be with passive sitting in front of something that looks cute and pretty and colourful and has jingles and nice tunes."

Researchers have found that every hour preschoolers watch television each day boosts their chances — by about 10 percent — of developing attention deficit problems later in life.

TV may overstimulate developing brainThe study, appearing in the April issue of Pediatrics, focused on two groups of children — aged 1 and 3 — and suggested that TV might overstimulate and permanently “rewire” the developing brain.
The study involved 1,345 children who participated in government-sponsored national health surveys. Their parents were questioned about the children’s TV viewing habits and rated their behavior at age 7 on a scale similar to measures used in diagnosing attention deficit disorders

Ryuta Kawashima is a professor at Tohoku University in Japan who specializes in brain imaging.

A story about the research by Tracy McVeigh appeared in The Observer reporting with the headline "Computer games stunt teen brains." According to McVeigh, Kawashima was in need of funding for his brain imaging research, so he decided to investigate the levels of brain activity in children playing video games hoping that his research would benefit game manufacturers. Kawashima presented the findings at the annual conference of the private learning program Kumon Educational UK. His findings are unlikely to win him any friends in the video game industry.
Kawashima made use of new techniques in computer imaging that can tell us which areas of the brain are being used in real time.

Kawashima compared brain activity in children playing Nintendo games with brain activity in children doing an exercise called the Kraepelin test, which involves adding single-digit numbers continuously for 30 minutes. The Nintendo group was found to only be using parts of the brain associated with vision and movement, while the arithmetic group had activity throughout the left and right hemispheres of the frontal lobe - areas of the brain associated with learning, memory, emotion, and impulse control.

Is a task such as the Kraepelin test a fair comparison? I believe that it is more than fair. Adding single digit numbers is a very mundane task that does not sound like it would require much of the brain. If video games use even less of the brain than the simple task of adding single digit numbers, then imagine how much less of the brain that they use than more complex activities such as socially interacting with peers. Frontal lobe development is necessary for learning to control behavior, as well as for developing memory, emotion and learning.
Professor Kawashima is quoted by The Observer as saying "There is a problem we will have with a new generation of children - who play computer games - that we have never seen before. The implications are very serious for an increasingly violent society and these students will be doing more and more bad things if they are playing games and not doing other things like reading aloud or learning arithmetic." He appears convinced that children who play computer and video games excessively will not develop their frontal lobes and may be more prone to act more violently as they grow up. His research findings bolster earlier findings that violent video games contribute to violent behavior.


At April 23, 2008 at 9:26 AM , Blogger Roehrman said...

Good article (I have one of those kids!) We have strict rules about tv only 2 things mean you can watch TV here

1 your sick
2 family movie time (generally once or twice a month sometimes not at all sometimes more)

We have a Leapster ( gift I would never buy something like this) It is used in the van OR to keep a little one busy for a short time during school.

I have always hated kids and olders watching tv and computer all the time. Waste of time and brain cells. LOL

PS It was terrible mean of you to post the picture of CHOCOLATE FROSTING at the top of your page! You know chocolate loving Pregnant women look at this thing!

Love Ya!


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