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18 June 2011

Passive Aggression

An interesting commentary in New York Times discusses the age-old question of whether using one's imagination is an active or a passive activity and whether something electronic is "passive" and thus, "bad" for the intellectual development of a child.  If we conclude that a) using one's imagination is an active activity and b) the process of reading uses one's imagination and thus c) reading is an active activity (Having taken Logic class at Vassar with a "hottie" Philosophy professor is not for naught, although I had already learned a number of these syllogisms and postulates in 10th grade Math class back in West Babylon High School.), then... there is also the sub-analysis of whether "reading" an electronic session which is "interactive" is active or passive.  Or, can a child be using his imagination if the "book" is showing Alice falling into the rabbit hole, even if he has to touch his finger to the screen to start her chase of the rabbit?

But, I have some reactions to the report cited and quoted in this piece.  For one,
The report, a compilation of seven studies, found children swimming in a media ocean. Each day, it said, schoolchildren “pack almost 8 hours of media exposure into 5.5 hours of time” because they multitask with video games, music players and TV.

There is an interesting conclusion that I "read" into the research presented.  Firstly, today's children seem to be doing pretty well, considering they're "swimming," not drowning in video, music and television five-and-one-half hours daily.  And, what exactly does "multitask" mean in this case?  Does it mean having the MP3 player going while they're playing a video game, just like I would have the radio on while cooking dinner, or sports fans watching a ?  I bet they could even have media exposure while they're reading, say, listening (or should I say, being "exposed") to Bach while reading.  And, couldn't one say that "8 hours of media exposure into 5.5 hours of time" is "over-exposure," akin to getting 2 hours of sunlight in a 20-minute tanning session?  And, just like being overly tired means needing a nap, does being "overexposed" to electronic media (since "media" unqualified technically should include newspapers, journals, books and other written material) mean the children would need a rest from it?  Perhaps that is what books have always been.  In that situation, would an e-book be eligible for the respite from the daily electronic ocean tsunami?

The report and article go on to say that despite this
About 90 percent of children ages 5 to 9 still read books most days of the week, the report said, spending about an hour a day, either reading or being read to. 
Where do these children find the time to sleep (unless that's one of the multiple tasks they are performing when they are watching television or playing video games)?    And "most days of the week" implies to me about four days out of the week.  Is this hour in school in which many now have what is called DEAR -- Drop Everything And Read?  Yes, we all must consciously set aside time for reading, or make time seems more apropos, at least a few more hours every day to fit in all that aggressive behaviour.

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