This is a TedX Talk by Dimitri Christakis that I watched in my ECE435 class. His research on over-stimulation is fascinating. If you want that part of the video start watching at about 5:00.
The research results show that the more television children watch before the age of three, the more likely the child will have attention problems. Also, the more cognitive stimulation that children receive the less likely the child will have attention problems later in life.
Another thing that they found was what the children are watching on television. They found that educational programming provides 0 risk of attention problems while entertainment shows provide 60% more and violent t.v. shows provide 110% more risk of attention problems. This seems to stem from the fact that entertainment and violent shows are much faster paced. The scenes change a lot more frequently than educational programs. This information is not all that surprising, except perhaps the actual percentages.
In the 1970, the average age children started to watch t.v. regularly was about 4 years. Today, it’s 4 months.
So what does this mean to us as educators? We need to provide a classroom setting that keeps the attention and interest of our students. We cannot change what happens at home and how much or what kind of television our students watch other than teaching them about how to spend their time wisely and encouraging physical activity. In my classroom I strive to provide an environment with minimal distractions – which means not a lot of mayhem on the walls or access to view outside. That last part sounds mean, but it is just a matter of facing the students’ desks away from the window, not blocking the windows. Also, I try to plan my lessons in a way that changes, not doing the same thing for the entire time. One other thing I find that helps students is brain breaks.