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Watching TV Makes You Smarter

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Steven Johnson’s argument in “Watching TV Makes you Smarter” that television increases intellectual and enhances our cognitive faculties, therefore making us smarter Johnson’s states that, “For decades, we’ve worked under the assumption that mass culture follows a path declining steadily toward lowest-common- denominator standards, presumably because the “masses” want dumb, simple pleasures and big media companies try to give the masses what they want. But as that 24 episode suggests, the exact opposite is happening: culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less” (278). This growing complexity involves three primary elements: multiple threading, flashing arrows, and social networks (280). One element the Jonson reports as his primary elements is “multiple threading” as the most celebrated structural feature of modern television drama” (289).

Johnson states that multiple threads “multiply plots where the episode will also display a chordal mode of storytelling” where some shows will often connect to three different threads at the same time, layering one plot atop another (283). These multiple threads is what makes people to be engage in the show and stimulate their brain, which is nourishing. Johnson uses this element “flashing arrow” as a metaphorical audiovisual cue and with this Johnson explains how, “popular entertainment that addresses technical issues – whether they are the intricacies of passing legislation , or of performing a heart bypass, or of operating a particle accelerator – conventionally switches between two modes of information in dialogue: texture and substance” (286). Another element that he reports “social network” explaining how, “when we watch these shows, the part of our brain that monitors the emotional lives of the people around us – the part that tracks subtle shifts information and gesture and facial expressions – scrutinizes the action on the screen, looking for clues” (291).

If the modern viewer selects shows that does not stimulate your brain then that show is not making you think and not having to think is boring. Good TV shows like 24, Survivor, The Sopranos, Alias, Lost, The Simpson, E.R., the opposite approach. According to Johnson, can be described as when, “you focus on the plot, and in focusing you’re exercising parts of your brain that map social networks, that fill in missing information that connect multiple narrative threads” (292). He argues that is important for people to choose the shows that will make them engage and immerse themselves in the plot even though they are violent, tasteless, or even if they contain foul language and the true test in knowing if the show is making you smarter if the given show engages or sedates the mind. I agree with Johnson in a sense that the “right” TV will increase brain activity and make people think while they are watching TV. Children and adolescents need to be exposed to television good or bad the choice is theirs, because it will help them learn about social issues as they go through life.

Watching TV can make anyone smarter. Shows like the News, CSI, Law and Order, and Dexter mostly geared toward adults. Watching the news is being smart because it lets us know what’s happening around the world and most important in our community. It gives us an idea what we are dealing with around the world. Adolescents can also learn about social issues by watching Teen Mom, Switch at Birth and Glee. Glee gives you examples of the lives of high school students and conflicts between them and also how music plays a big role in their schools. How there are many teen moms and the struggles they go through especially if they are single parents. And let us not forget about the children that between Caillou, Dora the Explorer, and PBS shows are all educational for them. These shows help children to read, learn languages, and write. I agree that watching TV can make a person smarter and be more aware of their social surrounding if they choose the appropriate TV shows to watch.

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