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Everything bad is good for you : how today's popular culture is actually making
Steven Johnson
Adult Nonfiction HM621 .J64 2005

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Worried about how much time your children spend playing video games? Don't be, advises Johnson-not only are they learning valuable problem-solving skills, they'd probably do better on an IQ test than you or your parents could at their age. Go ahead and let them watch more television, too, since even reality shows can function as "elaborately staged group psychology experiments" to stimulate rather than pacify the brain. With the same winning combination of personal revelation and friendly scientific explanation he displayed in last year's Mind Wide Open, Johnson shatters the conventional wisdom about pop culture as pabulum, showing how video games, television shows and movies have become increasingly complex. Furthermore, he says, consumers are drawn specifically to those products that require the most mental engagement, from small children who can't get enough of their favorite Disney DVDs to adults who find new layers of meaning with each repeated viewing of Seinfeld. Johnson lays out a strong case that what we do for fun is just as educational in its way as what we study in the classroom (although it's still worthwhile to encourage good reading habits, too). There's an important message here for every parent-one they should hear from the source before savvy kids (especially teens) try to take advantage of it. Agent, Lydia Wills at Paradigm. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

A quote from George Will labeling video games, computer games, hand-held games, and movies on computers as "progress: more sophisticated delivery of stupidity" opens this fascinating book. Discover magazine columnist Johnson (Mind Wide Open) convincingly argues that, on the contrary, much contemporary popular culture is intellectually demanding, honing complex mental skills and encouraging well-reasoned decisions on the basis of available information. Drawing on research in neuroscience, literary theory, and economics, he posits that reality television pressures people to think while they watch and that IQ levels are rising in developed countries in response to the problem-solving challenges of the new media, which made unprecedented advances in the last decade. While violence is present in some media offerings, as content it has far less influence on our minds than the opportunity to learn to analyze, interpret, and evaluate in complex settings and circumstances. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Suzanne W. Wood, emerita, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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