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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
, October 15, 2012
The standard formula for books on kids, the media, culture, etc.
is to describe various studies and to illustrate with real-life stories.
This is actually a pretty good formula and was what I was expecting
when I started reading ""Raising Generation Tech: Preparing Your
Children for a Media-Fueled World". Instead, the author, Jim Taylor
does things a little differently. Yes he does go over some of the new
research and yes he includes some real life anecdotes, but what stood
out for me was his philosophical take on the storied relationship between
children, media and family.
As someone who has read extensively on how media is affecting both
children and adults, I wasn't expecting anything particularly new. But you
can tell Dr. Taylor has thought about this deeply and has found some new,
very interesting ways of looking at these media issues. For example:
- on the advantages of living an "unmediated life", not a no-technology life,
but a life where media does not play a central role in one's life.
- "externalization of Self-Identity", how children develop a self-identity, and
how this process is being usurped by corporate media (i.e. Popular Culture).
- how Popular Culture teaches a distorted view of reality and a false self
- how parents themselves are often overly focused on technology to the
detriment of family life.
A number of parenting how-to books have come out looking at the effects
of technology on kids and family life. All too often the emphasis in on the
internet, video games, texting and social media, with barely any mention of
television. But children still spend more time watching TV than any of the
new technologies combined, so that pretending that it is not an issue makes
no sense. Luckily "Raising Generation Tech" does not make that mistake.
For parents looking for some hard and fast rules, you won't find them here.
But Dr. Taylor does provide ample new ways for looking at the problems of
media overuse, and he very much encourages parents to think about and
be aware of how much technology their kids are consuming. And whether
parents want to raise their own children, or let technology and corporate
media (pop culture) step in and raise their children for them.
Dr. Taylor writes in a breezy, easy-to-read manner, yet his subject matter
is in many ways philosophical and deep. I would definitely recommend
"Raising Generation Tech".
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
, February 24, 2012
Barbara Brock surveyed over 500 Low-TV and No-TV families, and further interviewed a number of these families in person. The result is her interesting and excellent book "Living Outside the Box". Why have these families given up TV ? What do they do with their time? Are they social outcasts? These are some of the questions Barbara Brock seeks to answer.
What I found most fascinating were the reasons given for living TV-Free. Basically these reasons could be put into four broad categories:
- Resentment and Frustration. Resentment at being raised with too much TV and/or frustration with their own families being too TV oriented.
- Technical Difficulties. TVs breaking down, or moving to an area with poor TV reception. And finding the resulting TV-Free existence to be liberating instead of boring.
- Outside Prompts. Inspirations such as TV-Turnoff Week, Waldorf Schools, and books about the negative effects of TV.
- Raised Without TV. The stereotype is that children raised without TV will become total TV addicts when given the opportunity. As it turns out, growing up without TV was also a major reason for living TV-Free as adults.
And what I liked best about this book was that in addition to facts and figures, Outside the Box is also filled with stories from the interviews and feedback. My favorite story was about Jenny, a mom who would labor over a family dinner and then have to tear her kids and husband away from their separate TVs for a family get-together dinner. Finally, out of frustration, she took the garden shears and literally cut the TV cable. Her youngest son started to cry, her two daughters quickly took off to a friend's TV-filled house, and her husband just stared in amazement. Now, years later, and still TV free, family dinners have become unhurried and filled with conversation, the kids have found lots to do, and even her husband has discovered that "at least now I know as much about my own kids as I used to know about The Simpsons".
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
, February 23, 2012
The book "The Power of Reading, Second Edition: Insights from the Research" by Stephen Krashen absolutely blew me away. I had no idea reading for pleasure was so beneficial.
We know that learning to speak is instinctual for children, that as long as the adults around them talk to them, that language will come naturally. Reading, on the other hand, is not quite so natural. Children need to be taught the mechanics of sounding out words, and helped along as they learn the basics. But, according to Dr. Krashen's book, once these basics are mastered, becoming a good reader is also instinctual and natural as long as certain conditions are met.
These conditions are:
- books (or other print material) are plentiful and skill-appropriate (not too hard and not too easy)
- books and reading are loved and held in high regard
Unfortunately, over the years, watching TV and playing video games have replaced reading for pleasure as a prime pass-time in the United States. The result is that while more and more people are learning to read (99% literacy rate), fewer and fewer are learning to read well.
Hopefully this book will inspire more people to "read for pleasure" and to provide an environment for their kids that encourages a love of reading.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Why are American's so obsessed with Fame and celebrities?
, November 17, 2008
Thanks to Chris for recommending this fascinating book.
Why are American's so obsessed with Fame and celebrities?
Jake Halpern, in his book Fame Junkies does an excellent
job explaining this mystery. To do so, he gets to know a
number of people who are either obsessed with becoming
famous or are obsessed with celebrities.
It would be easy to be scornful of obsessed fans and
celebrity slaves, but Halpern is instead very sympathetic.
As a child he was obsessed with the TV show "Lifestyles
of the Rich and Famous". To the point where his parents
became so alarmed that they threw out the TV. He continues
to be non TV-watching, which he feels, gives him a useful
Along with his fascinating portraits, Halpern also delves
deeply into the scientific literature. Peppered throughout
the book are studies and theories to explain the sometimes
strange behavior of his sources.
For example, Belongingness Theory, which posits that the
need to belong (as in have friends and loved ones) is a basic
Another example is Parasocial interaction. Before the advent
of mass-communication, people made friends and formed relationships
with actual real-life people. But now, especially with TV and movies
(because they are so life-like), people are forming para-social
relationships. That is, one-sided friendships with either TV characters
who don't even exist, or with celebrities who are barely aware that
the fan exists.
Halpern also points to a number of studies showing that the more
lonely and shy someone is the more likely they are to obsessed
over celebrities. For example:
"The combination of loneliness and our innate desire to belong
may be fueling our interest in celebrities and our tendency to
form para-social relationships with them... McCutcheon and Ashe
compared results from 150 subjects who had taken three personality
tests - one measuring shyness, one measuring loneliness, and one
measuring celebrity obsession, on something called the Celebrity
Attitude Scale, or CAS. The CAS asks subjects to rate the veracity
of statements such as "I am obsessed by details of my favorite
celebrity's life" and "If I were lucky enough to meet my favorite
celebrity, and he/she asked me to do something illegal as a favor,
I would probably do it." McCutcheon and Ashe found a correlation
among scores on loneliness, shyness, and the CAS. Their results
led McCutcheon to observe in a subsequent paper, "Perhaps one of
the ways [we] cope with shyness and loneliness is to cultivate a
'safe,' non-threatening relationship with a celebrity."
Para-social relationships are a huge benefit to the celebrities.
All those fans watching their shows, buying their clothing lines,
etc make the celebrities rich. Meanwhile, the fans don't get anything
tangible in return. Because the para-relationship is purely one-way,
the fan still feels lonely. As for getting the celebrity to help with
a move, advice or last-minute babysitting, forget it!
I Learned A Lot
, July 26, 2008
Despite the kind of cheesy title, I actually
really liked this book. The Author, Mr. Hedges
was not a big reader, but reluctantly decided to
read a self-help book that his sister-in-law had
recommended. This book not only inspired him to
read more books, it actually inspired him to change
his life, to make the changes necessary for him
to grow rich, both materially and spiritually.
Reading self-help books, although very helpful
for many people, is also considered kind of
declasse. This is ironic since traditionally,
studying the humanities (including Literature)
was considered a form of self-help, a respected
way to understand humanity and oneself.
This is something Mr. Hedges touches upon when
he lists a number of historical self-help books
such as Pilgrims Progress and Walden. Popular
self-help books, that are also considered Literature.
The author also stresses the importance of
self-education through reading, and gives
some examples, including:
- Abraham Lincoln who went to school a couple of
times a week when he was 7 years old (a total
of 18 months according to Wikipedia), and that
was it. The rest of his education he got from
- Frederick Douglas, a slave with no formal education
(he learned to read by listening while the wife
of his owner taught her children to read).
He was self-taught through reading, and became
a major force in the abolitionist movement.
What I particularly liked about this book was
the author's sincerity in wanting to spread the
word on the benefits of reading, which he does
is a very lively way.
Where the book lacked, was that the author neglected
the importance of reading for enjoyment. After all,
the more you "read for pleasure", the easier
reading becomes (practice makes perfect). And the
easier reading becomes, the more likely the reader
will stick with and comprehend more instructional
I also really enjoyed the historical references
that Mr. Hedges makes. It's obvious he did his
research, and I definitely learned a lot!
46 of 62 people found the following review helpful
No scientific evidence that TV is making us smarter
, August 5, 2006
Steven Johnson claims that TV is making us smarter. (Explicitly in his New York Times article and implicitly in his book.)
In support of this bold claim, he offers absolutely no scientific evidence. Yet his book is so skillfully written that he has managed to convince a huge number of people that he is correct. (It helps that so many people want to be convinced.)
How does he accomplish this sleight-of-hand?
In his book, he references a number of studies showing that video games improve various types of thought processes. The number he cites for TV. Zero.
On the other hand there are numerous studies showing that kids who watch excessive TV (over 1 to 2 hours per day), tend to do worse in school, don't concentrate as well, have problems with language and reading, etc...
By describing in loving detail the complexities of both video
games and various TV shows, and then referencing these scientific studies (for video games) he gives the impression that both have a similar effect on the brain. This couldn't be further from the truth. Playing Video games involve effort and concentration, while watching TV actually slows down the viewers' brain waves, hence the zombie look.
For more on TV's effects on the mind, see the Scientific American cover story (Feb 2002) "Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor".
The arguments he uses to support his contention are that TV is becoming more and more complex and the Flynn Effect. The Flynn Effect is the fact that IQ's in the U.S. and other countries have been rising about 3 points per decade. What Mr. Johnson fails to mention is that this effect in the U.S. started in 1918. TV wasn't even invented until the 1940s, and didn't become commonplace until the 1950s. Mr. Johnson also fails to mention the fact that SAT scores have fallen substantially over the past 40 years.
Even if TV shows are getting more complex (which is entirely plausible considering the amount of time and money invested in TV) there still is no evidence that that translates into smarter viewers.
On the subject of violent TV causing increased aggression, Mr. Johnson is completely dismissive. He argues that because violent crime has gone down over the last 10 years, that that proves there is no real connection. Never mind that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the *entire* world. Also never mind the over 1000 scientific studies done over the past 30 years showing a link between violent TV and aggression (for both children and adults).
The editorial review describes him as a science writer, but for my money, PR hack would be much more accurate.