When kids play, they use their imaginations. When kids watch a video screen, they’re hypnotized and use less of their imaginations, receiving everything passively. So it’s kind of scary to read a report in USAToday about a study from Daniel Anderson, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, who monitored how toddlers behaved when Jeopardy – a show that presumably offers toddlers little that interests them – was on a television set in the room.

The article says:

Perhaps most significant: When the TV was on, kids of all ages played with a given toy — a jack-in-the-box, a baby doll, blocks, a toy telephone, a school bus with toy passengers — for about 30 seconds, on average. Without TV, it was 60 seconds.

This may not seem significant, but when a TV is on in the room with young children, it means that children’s attention spans are broken up, and kids are engaging in less, and more fragmented, imaginative play.

I’m concerned that as kids grow older and become more and more fixated on screens – in particular, the Net and video games – they use less and less of their imaginations and let their brains fall under the direction of Web designers and game designers. Is this okay? I dunno, but somehow I doubt it. How much time are the children visiting your library spending in front of screens, or checking out items they’ll see on screens?