TELEVISION'S EFFECTS ON CHILDREN: DOES IT STIMULATE OR STULTIFY?
DURING the past twenty-five years two starkly contrasting myths have grown up, almost side by side. The first portrays the child as an active agent, an individual perpetually solving problems and inventing meanings. The second myth, equally prevalent, portrays the child as a passive victim of certain forces in his society, chief among them being television. According to this myth, television wreaks its destruction upon the hapless youngster, destroying any budding powers lurking within. It is difficult to see how both these legends could endure. If the child is truly a constructive being, he should exploit materials on television and thereby develop his mental and imaginative capacities. If, however, the child has been immobilized by television, his mind should stultify and his imagination wither away.
Though the final score card from scientific research has not yet been filled in, it is possible to begin to assess these myths. In my view, there is considerable support for the view of the young child as an active transformer of video fare and little, if any, convincing support for viewing the child as a passive "victim" of television. Television may actually exert positive effects on the child's imaginative powers.