Videoblogging as an antidote to too much TV

Several recent articles have caught my attention and have led me to the assertion that what we need to do to address problems with broadcast television isn’t more regulation, it’s more videoblogging.

Yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor had an editorial entitled, Time to tame TV violence. The subtitle went on to say, “The media industry has not self-regulated to the satisfaction of parents. The government should step in.”

This went hand in glove with an article in yesterday’s Christian Science Monitor:

For teens, too much TV can impair learning later, study says

If your 14-year-old is sitting in front of the TV for hours a day, your concerns about your teenager's education may be borne out.

That's because watching three or more hours of television a day leads to poor homework completion, negative attitudes toward school, bad grades, and poor performance in college, according to a study published this week.

Yet the question is, what is it about watching three or more hours of television a day that brings about poor performance and negative attitudes? Is it the violence, or is it something else?

An article in the Salem Oregon StatesmanJournal may provide an interesting clue. Students learn to thrive by not being bystanders.

According to a recent study, a kid's academic success may depend on whether he believes in his own ability to grow smarter.

Researchers divided poorly performing middle-school students into two groups and arranged for kids in both groups to receive intense, remedial instruction. Those in the second group, however, were also taught to understand intelligence as an expanding opportunity, rather than an unchangeable destiny. After several months, testing revealed slightly improved scores in the first group, but soaring success among students in the second.

Perhaps it is the passivity of so much television viewing that is the main culprit. Passive television viewers aren’t typically presented with the idea of ‘expanding opportunity’. The biggest opportunities they have are texting their votes to American Idol. The real opportunities seem to be reserved for those who make media. Perhaps our education system needs to be changed to help students understand the great opportunities that are available to them as a result of technological innovation.

Jonny Goldstien has a very interesting blog entry that relates to this. He videotaped Ed Markey, Chairman of the Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee, as Markey videotaped the hearings. People can bring their cameras to congress and create their own videos. There is even a new project, Open Source Cinema where people are working collaboratively to create a documentary about copyright in a digital age.

Groups like The Center for 21st Century Skills, Youth Rights Media, and Third World Majority are bringing media creation to students, and, I believe providing a real example of the expanding opportunity that technological innovation is bringing. Tufts New Literacy Summer Institute will be training teachers this summer in how to bring these expanded opportunities to the classroom.

Will more regulation of what can be broadcast over the airwaves address some of the problems we face as a nation? Perhaps. But it seems clear to me that if we want to have a real impact, we need to teach everyone that they have the power to change their lives and the change our country, and that an important starting point is to teach students the importance of creating their own media.

(Cross posted at Greater Democracy)

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