Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Do TV and Video Games Impair Reasoning?

Ars Technica recently posted an article on the question of video games and TV "hurting kids' critical reasoning skills."

"A review of the literature suggests that the growth of visual media, such as games and television," reads the article, "is producing a generation that has greater visual reasoning skills, but a reduced ability to stop and engage in critical reasoning."

The article mentions a perspective prepared by Patricia Greenfield of UCLA. "Greenfield points out that this doesn't make the visual media good or bad, just different."

What do you think, are visual media neutral? Are today's children just learning different skills and reasoning visually? Does the rise of multimedia correlate with a supposed decline in critical thinking abilities?


david said...

After I read Postman, my views shifted on this matter.

Most critical thinking can be boiled down to examining the relationships between propositions, and the strength of those propositions. Written text is almost inherently propositional content, so it lends itself well to critical thinking. Of course that doesn't guarantee quality writers and readers by any means.

Visual media has more hurdles to overcome to stimulate the same processes. The main problem is probably not the medium itself, but instead the cultural shift towards entertainment to the expulsion of any significance, meaning, or value. Like a child in an art museum, many just "eww and ahh" with no concern for what the meaning is.

But of course many would make the argument that the visual medium has caused the cultural shift towards abandoning critical thinking...but I am not fully convinced that visual media is solely culpable.

Robert Velarde said...

Thanks, David. As I've written before on my blog, I disagree with McLuhan that "the medium is the message," taking an approach that is more, "the medium is what we make it."

As such, I don't automatically view multimedia as an enemy or negative tool. Unfortunately, much of what appears in multimedia form, such as video, is entertainment-driven rubbish.

This, however, does not negate all multimedia. In some ways I believe visually-oriented multimedia can indeed be beneficial and demonstrate some critical thinking principles (take, for instance, forms of argument mapping).

Foggy Blogger said...

I think the main issue is the lack of critical thought and engagement with the medium. When TV came around, many parents simply sat their kids in front of the TV and that was it. In looking at my friend with kids it seems that there's a divide. Some are hyper-vigilant while others are completely ignorant about what the kids are watching/playing in their rooms/computers.

The main issue is the breakdown in parenting skills and community/family systems. The media is neutral, its our interactions with it that give it meaning. We as adults set the parameters and decide the meaning. Most of us have checked out.