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Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter Hardcover – May 30 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead (HC) (May 10 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573223077
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573223072
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.5 x 21.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #436,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From Publishers Weekly

Worried about how much time your children spend playing video games? Don't be, advises Johnson—not only are they learning valuable problem-solving skills, they'd probably do better on an IQ test than you or your parents could at their age. Go ahead and let them watch more television, too, since even reality shows can function as "elaborately staged group psychology experiments" to stimulate rather than pacify the brain. With the same winning combination of personal revelation and friendly scientific explanation he displayed in last year's Mind Wide Open, Johnson shatters the conventional wisdom about pop culture as pabulum, showing how video games, television shows and movies have become increasingly complex. Furthermore, he says, consumers are drawn specifically to those products that require the most mental engagement, from small children who can't get enough of their favorite Disney DVDs to adults who find new layers of meaning with each repeated viewing of Seinfeld. Johnson lays out a strong case that what we do for fun is just as educational in its way as what we study in the classroom (although it's still worthwhile to encourage good reading habits, too). There's an important message here for every parent—one they should hear from the source before savvy kids (especially teens) try to take advantage of it. Agent, Lydia Wills at Paradigm. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Johnson puts the much-maligned pastime of playing video games under the microscope and comes up with some startling conclusions concerning the intellectual value and cognitive demands of this pop-culture activity. He argues that it isn't the content of today's games that engages the mind and makes one smarter; rather, it is their ever-increasing level of complexity and sophistication that challenges the mind to grow neurologically. One only comes to understand how to play a game by probing the complex interfaces within its levels to see what works as one goes along. Johnson observes that this is much like real life. He urges parents to sit down with their children and play in order to understand just how mentally challenging the games can be. He extends his argument to TV series such as The Sopranos, 24, Six Feet Under, and Law and Order, all of which, he argues, are multi-threaded and require viewers to think in order to follow the increasingly complex character and plot developments. While the book and its arguments endorsing the cognitive challenges of video games and other mass media are thought-provoking and somewhat convincing, Johnson is less successful in convincing readers that video games–especially the more violent ones–are good for a player's mental health. While the book should be of value for reports, don't be surprised if many students can't resist citing it the next time their parents ask why they haven't finished their homework.–Catherine Gilbride, Farifax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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