Education

Tune In, Zone Out

By Debra Shore — June 01, 1990 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Television does, in fact, have a mesmerizing quality--what researchers Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi call the “passive spill-over effect.’' Kubey, an assistant professor in Rutgers University’s communication department, and Csikzentmihalyi (pronounced: Chick-sent-me-hi), a professor of psychology and education at the University of Chicago, have documented this phenomenon in a new book, Television and the Quality of Life: How Viewing Shapes Everyday Experience.

Typically, people turn on their television to relax. Yet Kubey found that people feel worse and derive less satisfaction from viewing the longer they watch.

“People report feeling more passive and less able to concentrate after they view television,’' says Kubey. “The passivity spills over into how they feel after viewing. A kind of inertia develops, and it becomes more and more difficult to get up and do something active. In other words, viewing leads to more viewing.’'

In a sense, watching television takes on some of the aspects of drug addiction. Explains Kubey: “It’s an easy, cheap way of changing the way you feel--you become more relaxed--with virtually no effort, but the more you use it, the less you get out of it.’'

Kubey’s work grew out of Csikzentmihalyi’s earlier studies to determine when and under what circumstances people are happy. All the participants in the study had been issued electronic pagers, or “beepers.’' Using the beeper system, Csikzentmihalyi and his associates would signal people throughout the day and ask them what they were doing at that moment and how they felt. Frequently, they reported they were watching television.

Kubey’s television research, he says, “has strengthened my own resolve that we must formally educate children in the critical analysis of mass-media products. We take children in junior high and high school and spend hours teaching them how to read poetry and novels, when the vast majority will read very little poetry and very few novels when they leave, especially with respect to the number of hours that they will spend watching television. That we don’t do more in this area is shortsighted. We owe it to ourselves as a culture and to our children.’'

A version of this article appeared in the June 01, 1990 edition of Teacher as Tune In, Zone Out

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Education Civil Rights Groups Sue Tennessee Over Law Against Transgender Student Athletes
The state law bars transgender athletes from playing public high school or middle school sports aligned with their gender identity.
3 min read
Amy Allen, the mother of an 8th grade transgender son, speaks after a Human Rights Campaign round table discussion on anti-transgender laws in Nashville, Tenn. on May 21, 2021.
Amy Allen, the mother of an 8th grade transgender son, speaks after a Human Rights Campaign round table discussion on anti-transgender laws in Nashville, Tenn. on May 21, 2021.
Mark Humphrey/AP