2016/01/12

[Thoughts] On videos, brain and behavior

I remember how, during the summer holidays when I was 6 years old (I can date it quite precisely by my memories of the age of my kid brothers, respectively 2,4 and 11 years younger than me), my mother limiting both how much time we spent watching TV (I think it was 1h, or one program) and how we chose the program (to see something on one particular day, we had to announce it the day before: I think that it was both to push us to practice reading on the TV program and to make us go out more often).

During adolescence, I always felt a bit afraid of the effects of the movies or videos that I watch on my way of thinking, sometimes witnessing its effect months or years after. I have avoided watching horror movies since quite young, not for their effect on me while watching it (fear, but under control, and sometimes amusement at the crappy special effect), but for its effect in the longer term, such as being more likely to see monsters in shadows, being more paranoid. I thought that it was because I was more sensible than others, since my classmates did not seem to feel nor even fear such effects.

Since I left my parent's house at the age of 21, I never owned a TV, and had a TV in my apartment only for 2 years while living with a partner who owned one and "needed" to watch it. We got into fights because I was going to read a book in the next room when she was watching TV. I felt on many occasions that it was important for me to have control about what I watch, mainly because of the commercial interruptions, but also because of the passivity of "receiving" a movie via TV channels as opposed to "choosing" one via a purchase or rental.

Now well advanced in adulthood, I have been doing experiments to optimize (or at least improve) my mood, by adding some "emotional" videos in my mix of educational videos (I recommend a weekly dose of "Crash Courses", "Last Week Tonight" and TED talks videos), such as video featuring clever people (e.g. "Dr Who") to make me want to be smarter, idealistic people (e.g. "Firefly") to make me more likely to stick to my ethics, and videos featuring resilient heroes (e.g. "One Piece") to make me more want to be more resilient. It is subjective, but I felt as if watching such videos (e.g. while exercising on my exercise wheel, on the rolabola, or juggling) teaches my brain some behavioral patterns so that they will come more naturally than less desirable ones when the time comes.

So when I watch the video below of a 1.5h presentation from Michel Desmurget, author and scientist in Neuro sciences and Physiology (in French without subtitles :( ), about the effect of TV (actually, a large part of what he says is also true about watching DVDs and other videos) on the brain and behavior of children, adolescents and adults, I feel heavily corroborated and I naturally like it a lot. You can see for yourself if you feel the same, but I highly recommend it.

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