Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing?

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Media violence has been a controversial topic for decades. There are contradictory findings from a variety of studies, some showing no effect on people’s real-world aggression, and some showing a significant connection.

On balance, it makes sense to me that what we consume and are exposed to–whether it’s unhealthy food, environmental contaminants, poisoned relationships, or violent images–make a difference to our health, well-being, and behaviour. If this is true for adults, how much truer must it be for children? And the younger the child, the more true it will be.

In this article, the authors–three renowned forensic psychiatrists–summarize the findings to date. They conclude that yes, media violence does have a connection to the real thing: ‘Exposure to violent imagery does not preordain violence, but it is a risk factor.’ Short-term effects of exposure to media violence are moderate to large; longer-term effects are small-to-moderate. Watching more than 2 hours of violent TV each weekday leads to antisocial behaviour in early adulthood.


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The Best and Worst Learning Strategies

hand math2If you want to remember what you’re learning, highlighting (or underlining) and re-reading are 2 of the worst strategies to use.

Two strategies that are far more effective are spreading out your learning periods–aiming for the study equivalent of short, regular exercise periods, rather than monthly marathons–and engaging in practice testing. These were the two approaches that emerged as most effective of the ten most frequently used approaches to learning, in a recent study of the effectiveness of different learning strategies.

Strategies in the middle range–rated ‘low utility’ by the researchers–included mental imagery, mnemonics, elaborative interrogation, and self-explanation.

In this blog, Annie Murphy Paul discusses why highlighting and re-reading don’t work very well, and why spreading out your learning and engaging in practice tests help people learn and remember better:



From Peril to Promise: 10 Ways to Help Vulnerable Kids Become Resilient

  worriedChildren worry. And some worry more than others. Worrying isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and in fact recent research shows that the most susceptible and vulnerable babies—when they have nurturing parents and safe, dependable early environments—can become the most successful people of all.* What can parents do to help their kids thrive? In this blog, we review our top 10 suggestions for parents who want to translate their children’s worries into lifelong resilience. Read more


Talk to Your Baby!

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Children who grow up in middle-class professional families start off ahead of their working-class peers, and their advantage keeps growing over time. There’s been a lot of energy, time, and money spent trying to address this learning gap, but in her recent article, Tina Rosenberg writes about new initiatives that are attempting to prevent the poverty disadvantage happening in the first place. In the studies described in her article, parents read to their toddlers, and take advantage of community resources like read-aloud day at the local library. Parents also learn how to talk to their babies from birth on. Read more

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Intelligence and Bullying

rsz_boy_with_arms_crossedAnyone who’s different than others is more likely than other kids to feel isolated. This is especially true in the early adolescent years of 11 to 14, when fitting in is more important than at any other time in a person’s life.

Being smart is enough to trigger rejection, envy, or aggression by classmates, although it doesn’t always bring the knowledge or wisdom to deal well with social problems like these. Rejection can take the form of bullying, whether with gestures, words (Nerd! Brainiac! Geek!), physical violence, or cyber-attacks, all of which can be hurtful or even traumatic. Read more

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Group-Administered Intelligence Tests and Gifted Identification

rsz hand mathMany school districts are using group IQ tests (aka, intelligence tests, or tests of cognitive ability) to identify children’s need for gifted education. These tests have some advantages, and also some inherent problems.

Individually-administered IQ tests—tests where a psychologist sits with one child for 90 minutes to 2 hours, and asks a series of standardized questions that vary depending on the child’s responses—are by far the most reliable indicators of kids’ learning needs. They have many flaws (which we discuss elsewhere—see links below) but they provide the most useful and targeted information about a child’s learning strengths and weaknesses. Read more

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Beyond Intelligence

hands joining in the centre

Intelligence matters. At the same time, however, achievement, success, happiness, and fulfillment in life are built on a lot of different factors that go beyond intelligence, at least as intelligence is conventionally defined. Some children are academically advanced, and others make friends easily. Some kids are inclined to athletics, and some excel at music. Some are great at mathematical analysis, and others have well-developed ‘street smarts.’ Read more