Friday, September 16, 2011

Fast-paced TV cartoons leave children mentally exhausted:

"When children have to process a lot of information very quickly, it is difficult to process because it's unusual. In this case [SpongeBob episodes] a lot of things are happening that can't happen in real life," she explained. "We think it leaves them mentally exhausted -- at least for a short time."

This is one of the conclusions from a study published this week in Pediatrics. It appears to be consistent with the research that shows adults suffering mental fatigue from interacting with fast-pace media (I wrote about it earlier).

The difference between books and video is that we lose control over the pace of events. Even when an adult reads to a child, the child still has a chance to slow down the process, e.g. by asking a question. The same is probably true about interactive, but not real-time games. What's particularly bad about fast-paced "out of control" media experiences is that for many people they define what a mentally challenging activity should be. In other words, high-speed brain processing becomes confused with hard mental work on solving a difficult problem. The same way creativity is being assessed by what one feels about the idea (the so-called "aha!" moment), instead of the value of the outcome.

tags: creativity, mind, brain, psychology,

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