eng1201sp2017roughdraft | Theory Of Mind

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McCamey 1 Savannah McCamey Professor Sharyn Hunter ENG 1201 A50 19 February 2017 The Effects of Reading Fiction in Comparison to Watching Television on Language and Theory of Mind Development Societal norms steer closer to placing no importance on reading. Those who are engaged in the lives of children often witness parents using technology to entertain their children rather than teaching
  McCamey 1 Savannah McCameyProfessor Sharyn Hunter ENG 1201 A5019 February 2017 The Effects of Reading Fiction in Comparison to Watching Television onLanguage and Theory of Mind DevelopmentSocietal norms steer closer to placing no importance on reading. Those  who are engaged in the lives of children often witness parents using technology to entertain their children rather than teaching them healthy habits and ways of using technology as a tool, engaging in their thoughts, and sharing valuable perspectives and skills with them. From popular thinking I have considered that reading has profound effects on language and see these effects in my personal life. To understand more about the effects of reading on language development, I have researched this topic and found another largely important skill that is affected by reading- theory of mind. Theory of mind is defined by  Jessica Black and Jennifer Barnes, writers of the essay “The effects of reading on social and nonsocial cognition”, as “the ability to infer and reason about mental states: our own and other people’s beliefs, desires, and intentions” (3). Upon reading this definition I was able to draw connections to the lives of  McCamey 2 children I know and realize the difference in play and language of those who receive strong encouragement to read and those who are allowed access to television and other electronics without bounds. Having bounds set for the amount of digital media, specifically TV shows, movies, and videos, consumed in conjunction to setting goals for reading, exercises the human brain and allows for better ability to understand and engage with other people. Using current statistics and studies, one can see the loss of ability and skill in the recent and current school-age generations. In the documentary Why Reading Matters , Professor Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University in Boston states that from 2004-09 children middle school and high school age were flattening or declining in reading and comprehension skills gauged by academictests. She attributes these losses to the unhealthy use of digital media. This statistic seems to be holding true for fourth- and eighth-grade students in 2015. The National Report Card, a website containing statistics on national testing, states that fourth-grade reading levels are stagnant compared to those reported in 2013 and eighth-grade reading levels are lower than those reported in 2013. The report also states that “about one-third of fourth- and eighth-grade students in 2015 perform at or above the Proficient  level in reading” (“2015 Mathematics & Reading Assessments). These statistics paint a picture of the failure of the United States’ families to incorporate reading and language  McCamey 3 development into the lives of their children. To do this, one needs to know the means of making it happen.Many believe the consumption of television is as beneficial to our brains and education as reading. Others place no importance on reading and view leisure time as a time to stop their minds from working and essentially become passive in their thinking by absorbing content from television and other media rather than reflecting on ideas. There are also those who believe in the importance of reading and working one’s brain to produce greater abilities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an annual average percentage of leisure time spent watching television to be over fifty-five percent in 2015 (“American  Time Use Survey”). This means more than half the time people have not  working, going to school, or fulfilling some obligation, they are watching television. In this statistic, television does not include consuming other types ofdigital media. This statistic also states that only six percent of leisure time spent by Americans over fifteen-years-old is filled with reading. Making the age-range smaller, fifteen- to nineteen-year-olds spend under four percent of their leisure time reading according to the statistics the Bureau of Labor Statistics provide (“American Time Use Survey”). Competing with the popular belief that television programs can benefit language and education, studies confirm that watching television has physical  McCamey 4 effects on the brain that cause lower IQ and a creates a disconnect between parents and children. Melissa Chu writes of a 2013 study led by Hiraku  Takeuchi from Tohoku University in Japan that involved 276 children and theirmothers. The findings indicate that parts of the brain associated with arousal and aggression as well as the frontal lobe that lowers verbal reasoning thickened as the children watched more television (Chu). Douglas Fields, Chiefof the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section at the National Institute of Health also reviewed this study and writes that the scientists examined the same children several years later to find that the anatomical changes strengthened through the years. The regions correspond to arousal, aggression, emotions, and vision. There was an increase in gray matter in manyregions including the frontal lobe (Fields). The results also show an indirect correlation between the hours of television being watched and the scores of  verbal proficiency tests. As the children consumed more media, their tests results were lower regardless of factors including age, gender, and economic  background. Watching television actually affected the communication between the mother and child. Generally, during the session of television viewing, comments made from the mother towards their child were sparse and random- they didn’t relate to the child’s comments (Chu).
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