To start off my Inquiry Project, I chose to read an article from the Huffington Post titled “Brain Development: How Much TV Should Children Watch?” The article was written by David Perlmutter, M.D and published December 5th, 2010. Perlmutter is a neurologist who has apparently written many books on the subject of how technology, mostly television, affects children’s brains.
The article provided some key insight into my topic. Most interesting to me was Perlmutter’s discussion of the impact television is having on children’s creativity. he emphasizes the importance fantasy and make-believe play has on childhood development. This is something Sherry Turkle touches on her book Reclaiming Conversation, but Perlmutter goes more in depth about how important creativity is for brain development. He notes that “the ability of a child to fantasize, to create alternative scenarios and to explore “other realities” ultimately creates a brain that can think outside the box, paving the way for the ability to achieve novel solutions to problems and creative ways of responding to academic challenges later in life.”
When I first chose this topic, I was thinking more about the physical repercussions watching a lot of television may have on a child. After reading this article, however, I find myself more interested in the mental and emotional impact watching massive amounts of television has on a developing brain. I hadn’t really thought too much about how watching TV as opposed to going outside and playing something imaginative with friends or by yourself might impact a child. But now I find myself wondering, could television be creating a generation of “uncreative” children?
I’m not really sure about that. I mean, I definitely see Perlmutter’s point that “creative and imaginative play ultimately creates a comfort zone in which a child is able to function, learning from his trials and errors and becoming more comfortable with the option of failure. None of this activity takes place if a child is engrossed in television where fantasies are spoon-fed and provide no opportunity for alternative explanations.” However, as somewhat of a child’s television connoisseur, I’ve seen many a show that does not hinder, but actually sparks children’s creativity. The article did not provide any links to other sources, but did link to the author’s own books on childhood brain development. Ultimately, I think this article raised more questions for me than it answered, but it was helpful in gaining some baseline knowledge on my topic.