Archive for August, 2010

New studies find video games to be detrimental to children’s success

Monday, August 9th, 2010 by admin

Video games, in today’s culture, function in ways very similar to the television; video games are often a sort of babysitter for harried parents or nannies.  Children will sit, mesmerized, by a video game screen for hours – and often fail to realize when a family member calls them to dinner or to do a chore.  Video games need not have a place in children’s lives, but enacting change requires significant effort, both from the child and, especially, the parent.  It is not an easy thing to suffer a video game-addicted child’s withering queries about why they cannot play video games, but it is an important and even necessary step in helping children disengage from the gaming world and reengage in academics and typical socialization.

There is science behind the decision not to let your child play video games, but there is also common sense.  Consider the implications of allowing a child to sit in front of a television or computer screen for extended periods of time.  Is the child communicating with real people?  Is he or she exercising the body, aside from the thumbs and other fingers potentially involved in manipulating a keyboard?  The child is missing valuable for generating creative solutions to “boredom.”  A child that is accustomed to playing video games is extremely averse to spending time away from those games; think of the kids you see hunched over their gaming devices in restaurants, stores, waiting lines.  These are not children who, without any behavioral changes, will grow up to be conversant, confident individuals; they will likely be withdrawn, for they’ve had little experience with real people, rather than video game characters.

Even owning a video game might hinder your child’s academic progress.  Robert Weis and Brittany C. Cerankosky of Denison University conducted a study examining the short-term effects of video-game ownership on academic development in young boys (Science Daily).  Families with boys from ages 6 – 9 were recruited.  All participants were given intelligence tests and reading and writing assessments; their parents and teachers filled out behavioral questionnaire.  Half of the children received a video-game system while the other half were promised a video-game system at the end of the four month study.  At the end of the four month period, both groups – the gamers and the non-gamers – were retested and their parents and teachers were asked to complete more behavioral questionnaires.  The shocking results were as follows:

Boys who received a game system at the beginning of the study showed an immediate increase in how much time they spent playing video games and a decrease in the after-school academic activities.  They also had significantly lower reading and writing scores than the group of boys that were promised a game system at the end of the study.  Parents reported no behavioral changes, but there was an immediate increase in teacher-reported learning problems for boys that received a game system at the beginning of the study (Science Daily).

Children that are forced to interact with the physical world thrive within its constructs; children permitted to interact primarily with a video screen find themselves immersed in a world people by characters rather than humans, and therefore with fantasies rather than relationships.  Iowa State University (ISU) also conducted a study of television and gaming habits and these habits’ relationships to students’ overall academic success and attention span. ISU studied “both elementary school-age and college-age participants [and] found that children who exceeded the two hours per day of screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to be above average in attention problems” (Science Daily).

Associate Professor of Psychology Douglas Gentile dubbed television’s effect the “MTV effect,” stating that MTV “started showing music videos that had very quick edits — cuts once every second or two.  Consequently, the pacing of other television and films sped up too, with much quicker edits.”  Gentile also noted that “quicker pace may have some brain-changing effects when it comes to attention span.”  This is particularly to Brainjogging, as Brainjogging strictly mandates that Brainjoggers do not play video games of any kind; Brainjogging also encourages very limited television time and, depending upon the student and his or her disability, sometimes even recommends that Brainjoggers not be exposed to television or movies, in addition to video games.

Brainjogging’s dedication to keeping students as media-free as possible has to do with the fact that the brain is a malleable thing: one can train the brain, but one can train one’s mind in good ways and in bad ones.  Gentile commented, “Brain science demonstrates that the brain becomes what the brain does. If we train the brain to require constant stimulation and constant flickering lights, changes in sound and camera angle, or immediate feedback, such as video games can provide, then when the child lands in the classroom where the teacher doesn’t have a million-dollar-per-episode budget, it may be hard to get children to sustain their attention.”  Heed the following: ISU found “that the effect was similar in magnitude between video games and TV viewing.”  Brainjogging trains students’ minds to respond consistently to stimuli, and to override the chaotic stimuli generated by television and video games.  Brainjogging is not simply tutoring, but cognitive therapy, rewiring the brain to recover any ground lost to excessive television viewing or video gaming.

We didn’t start the fire . . .

Thursday, August 5th, 2010 by admin

LaGrange Fire Department's Bill Brazell, Jonathan Highland and Rodney Gosdin stopped by Summer Booster Session on Wednesday, 4 August 2010.

… but really, we do hope to start a fire in each and every individual that comes through Brainjogging.  Brainjogging wants students to have valuable learning experiences that are both exciting and relevant to their lives.  The LaGrange Fire Department sent a truck to Camp Academia INC’s Brainjogging Summer Booster Session.

The children had an absolutely wonderful time!  They got to ask any and every question they’ve ever wondered of a fire man – why do you have two hoses on the truck? why are the cab lights red? do you carry water on the truck? – and get sprayed by a fire hose!

Brainjoggers hang out in the spray from the fire hose.


Brainjogging truly appreciates LaGrange Fire Department’s support of our students and their educational journey, and specifically thanks fire fighters Bill Brazell, Jonathan Highland and Rodney Gosdin for making the  campers’ day!

Yes, the experience of sitting in the cab of a fire truck was great, but Brainjogging wanted to make sure to reinforce the day’s educational value.  Brainjogging encourages generating concept maps, or webs, of subjects or events in order to visualize and organize the information.  These webs are valuable tools when writing, whether that writing be sentences, paragraphs or entire papers.  Summer Booster Session campers learned how to put thoughts onto paper (or white board) in a way that allowed them to sort information and easily establish relationships between various aspects.

Concept maps, or webs, are excellent writing tools for organizing thoughts and relationships.

Webs are something students will use again and again – and they are an incredibly effective tool when attempting to sort and process information.

So, fire trucks, fire men and webs, o my!  Thank you again to LaGrange Fire Department and fire fighters Bill Brazell, Jonathan Highland and Rodney Gosdin for their tremendous support in donating time (and water from the hose) to Brainjogging’s Summer Booster Session campers!

Bouncing out of summer and into school

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 by admin

Summer has come and, for many students, is on its way out the door. Long days, monotonous teachers and piles of difficult schoolwork may await some students, but not Brainjoggers! Brainjogging kicked off its Summer Booster Session on Monday, 2 August. Brainjoggers are rejuvenating their minds in preparation for the upcoming school year, which begins as early as Monday, 9 August 2010 for some Summer Booster Session campers. Brainjogging believes that  learning is inherently fun and engaging; activating the brain’s emotional center, the cerebellum, actually enhances learning and so should be stimulated to improve learning experiences. Accordingly, Brainjogging designs all lesson plans around the idea that all academic, social or other necessary information be delivered in a way that stimulates the child receiving said information.  Kids should be engaged in their learning experience; ideally, they should be laughing.

Miss Sellers and two six year old Summer Booster Session campers bounce out all 44 United States Presidents to a syllabic rhythm.

Summer Booster Session campers have already learned the names of the Presidents of the United States – all 44 of them, in order – and it’s only day two of camp! Brainjogging founder Shirley Pennebaker, M.Ed., developed an audionymic rhyme for students to use to learn about United States Presidents that functions in the same way as do hand games and the songs that go along with them. Brainjoggers often use balls to bounce out the syllabic rhythm of whatever information they’re learning, and Summer Booster Session campers used this method of simultaneous rhyme verbalization and physical rhyme engagement to enhance their experience of United States Presidents. The students also learned hand motions that coordinate with the songs’ lyrics. The children were singing, bouncing balls, laughing and generally enjoying themselves – and without realizing it, they were better enabling themselves to retain the information.