Huffington Post article
"The Environmental Alliance of New Mexico is calling for a new tax on televisions and videogames, which will be used to fund outdoor education programs.
The group is seeking the implementation of a 1 percent levy on game consoles and televisions, which it says will raise $4 million per year that could go toward the "Leave No Child Inside" initiative. Studies have linked videogames and television with poor academic performance and increased rates of obesity and attention-deficit disorder, according to a report in the Huffington Post, while a study funded by the Sierra Club, which also initiated the tax plan, determined that one week of outdoor education offered the same "beneficial impact" as six weeks of classroom time.
Michael Casaus, the New Mexico youth representative of the Sierra Club, said, "We believe it is such a nominal tax that consumers won't feel it too much, especially if they are educated about where that money goes." According to the State Parks agency, 80 percent of students in New Mexico live within a half-hour of a state park, but less than 10 percent have ever actually visited one. Health and education reports indicate that students in the state lag behind others in most academic areas, while obesity is an increasing problem.
More than 40 organizations in the state have asked for increased outdoor education, according to Casaus, including Santa Fe and Beranlillo counties, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and the New Mexico Science Teachers Association."
I've just quoted the entire article just in case you decided to not read it. The second link is the original article from the Huffington Post. Now, before I have some naturist (If that's even a word) hounding me saying that I'm the epitome of the video gamer and whatnot, I'd like to say this is a GOOD idea. Exercise is good. Working out is good, enjoying fresh air IS GOOD. Getting taxes for program on funding for outdoor programs is GOOD. HOWEVER. There's something funny about this article that just makes it seem as if good intentions are the only thing that this tax is about.
FYI, I'm pretty in shape, just a few extra skin here and there but not to the point of I'm going to die of a stroke. Grades? A-B+ range. Not a majority in this case? Duh.
Lesson one about debates. When someone pulls numbers, it's usually out of their ass. As to quote Penn and Teller, or rather... just Penn I guess...: "The numbers aren't bull****, it's people that are full of bull****" or something in that sense. Do all the research you want, but if you're going to tell me something, tell me not the results but what the conditions were to get that specific result. Let's break this down... shall we?
"Studies have linked videogames and television with poor academic performance and increased rates of obesity and attention-deficit disorder, according to a report in the Huffington Post, while a study funded by the Sierra Club, which also initiated the tax plan, determined that one week of outdoor education offered the same "beneficial impact" as six weeks of classroom time."
The last time I remembered, ADD was something you had, not something you developed, and in our pill popping era, who's to say that ADD isn't just being active? From what I remember, ADD often results in poor academic grades, which is why those kids have "extended time" though honestly, nowadays it seems to depend more on how much money (or checks) can you slip under the table before getting the doctor to say "Your kid has ADD." I digress.
Apparently, these "studies" that show that video games and television = poor academic performance, obesity, and ADD. How do you do that? No really. How do you link grades, being overweight (which I may add has to do a lot with eating habits), and a hyperactivity disorder with sitting in a crouched position? I can see some links between television and obesity, but one would have to factor in that the subject watching television would probably be eating at the same time, which already is a poor eating habit, as it's usually not typical that you'd have celery sticks while watching a movie (or maybe you would. Not my point here). But that's not the video game's fault. That's the video gamers and the people watching television's fault. It is also the PARENT'S fault for letting their kid do so. Grades are linked to study habits. Habits that should've been in the child at an early age. If the parent never pushed the kid to study then I don't see why it's the kid's fault for not being able to correlate good grades with good notes and good study habits. Is it the kid's fault for not figuring that out on his/her own? Yeah, but the parent should be involved in the kid's life. It's like those shooting incidents. Some kid said he shot some other kid because he saw it in Grand Theft Auto Whatever. Why did the parents buy the game? Why didn't they notice that M rating? Why didn't they notice that their kid was prone to being influenced by what he sees somewhere else? WHY DID THEY SUE THE COMPANY FOR THEIR FAULTS?!
Video games and television can only go so far in taking the blame for these things. I don't see how you can prove with "studies" that you can link these things together. Sure, give any guy a controller and tell him to play for 13 hours a day, eating cheez doodles and see how he is in a couple months. No kidding he's gonna gain weight, but like I said, it's not the video game, its the video gamER.
Funny thing number two. "while a study funded by the Sierra Club, which also initiated the tax plan, determined that one week of outdoor education offered the same "beneficial impact" as six weeks of classroom time."
There's no way for me to put this lightly so I guess I'll be blunt. What the hell does that mean? I've been reading that sentence over again and searched the Sierra Club's site only to find nothing. I don't see any relation between outdoor education and classroom time. I'm not saying I don't think the study is correct, I'm saying explain to me how you were able to link the "beneficial impact" of one week of outdoor education to six weeks of classroom time. What beneficial impact? I thought were talking about obesity, grades and ADD. What does outdoor time equate to in terms of learning a subject in class? Well, a 1:6 ratio, but what does that mean? I found some report about this and reading it through, it talks about student relations with their teachers and peers and general problem solving skills. NOTHING TO DO WITH GRADES.
Fun fact: "This study focused on 255 sixth-grade students, 58 percent of which were identified by teachers as English Learner (EL) students. According to teacher reports, among those students who attended the program, EL students demonstrated gains in cooperation,leadership, relationship with peers, and motivation to learn that were significantly larger than the gains shown by non-EL students for those constructs."
No.... S***. If half the students who took part were kids who were learning English, then sports is one of the only other ways one can communicate since sports has some unusual universal language to it. Take a kid with barely enough conversational skills, put him in a room with any American. Observe. They can't communicate with each other. Put them in a gym. Give them a basketball. They'll play one on one. Why? Because it's something they both know. Getting tired? NEW QUOTE.
"According to the State Parks agency, 80 percent of students in New Mexico live within a half-hour of a state park, but less than 10 percent have ever actually visited one."
It's probably safe to assume that these statistics are based upon driving distances at a rate of 60 MPH. Ok. So... How many under 16 drive? What? None? ORLY?! Ok then. So what's the alternative?
A. School Field Trip.
B. Parents driving.
Well, apparently New Mexico kids have problems in school so it's kinda obvious where the funding WOULDN'T go. And so we have parents again. Hi parents. How are you? Taking your kids to national parks lately? According to this statistic, not really. We should really wail on your kids. You're not at fault. Oh wait. Yeah you are. I honestly believe we as a society of America, should push for educational classes for parents. Yeah sure, they have that class for nurture, but what about the social aspects? I mean, psychologists and "child specialists" don't really help, no offense to you people. For the general public, I feel that parents, like their kids, just go on with life pretty aloof and only take action at drastic instances. As long as their kid isn't killed, or is going to be killed, or is on the future path of being killed, or receive dire consequences for their actions after their death, they honestly don't care. Or for those that do, clearly a minority. Sorry.
Since I'm not the kind of guy to just talk. I actually did a bit of research and looked up some stuff about the Sierra Club and this article and whatnot. Unlike a certain article, I'm gonna give you links to such information to let you check it for yourself.
Here's the report I found on that little fun fact.
Here's a "fact" sheet I found related to this article:
If you don't wanna read it. I'll label some points of interest. Mind you though, this IS to my discretion. Looks like it was done in Microsoft word. Those bullet points are what I use to take notes in my Economics class.
"Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation. Many parents today are bombarded with media reports of “stranger danger” even though childhood abduction rates are actually down by about 40% over previous generations. 82 percent of mothers with children between the ages of 3 and 12 cited crime and safety concerns as one of the primary reasons they do not allow their children to
That may be true, but let's assume each generation is about 40 years apart. Commercially, (according to Wikipedia, which required a bit of cleanup so confirmed by tvhistory.tv)first televisions were sold in the 30s. The last generation's childhood would've been about 1960s and before that... well... They never had TV. First computers, around 1940. No games, except for maybe tetris. No time for it really. First company to use the term "console," 1976. TV dinner era? 1953. See a trend here? Two generations ago (and even 40 years is hard to say, my parents were born in the late 50s) there was no such thing as the digital entertainment that we now have. It's a no brainer children today spend more time indoors than out, because back then any fun they could have was generally outside, with their friends. Ever seen those old black and white shows? "Good morning, Mizzus Smith. Can Billy come out to play baseball?" "Sure, Tommy. BILLY! Tommy's here! Be sure to come back by dinner!"
"Ok... but I had tons of old buddies who used to say they stayed in all day playing pong." Pong, made in 1972. By the way, they were a minority amongst the kids who played baseball and collected baseball cards.
"Many parents today are bombarded with media reports of “stranger danger” even though childhood abduction rates are actually down by about 40% over previous generations."
Did I, or did I not call that earlier? Parents tend to step in nowadays only when their kid is gonna be killed or something of that sort.
"Children’s free play and discretionary time declined more than 7 hours a week from 1981 to 1997 and an additional 2 hours from 1997 to 2003, totaling 9 hours less a week of time over a 25-year period in which children participated in unstructured activities"
Define your terms because as of now, that sounds like pulling numbers again over things you decide to keep from us. Define unstructured activities.
"The American Environmental Values Survey found that 92 percent of respondents thought that most kids do not spend enough time outdoors and 91 percent that most kids these days care more about video games and portable music players than about wildlife and clean air"
That's a pretty subjective survey, and what are these people expecting from kids that even ADULTS seem to have issues understanding?
"Studies reported upon in the medical journal, Pediatrics reports the average American child now spends
more time watching television (1,023 hours per year) than in school (900 hours per year)"
Let's do a bit of math since people are so keen on numbers. I'll assume the average school day is from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. That's 7 hours. Divide 900 by 7 and that's how many school days you approximately have. Now. Let's just assume that kids only watch on non school days. So subtract 128.57 (the answer I got from the school equation) from 365. You're left with 236.42 days. The point says the child spent time watching 1023 hours per year. now divide 1023 by 236.42 and you get 4.33. But that really isn't the case. I'm fairly sure kids also watch on school days too. So divide 1023 by 365. What do you get? 2.8. That's right. 2.8. I remember when I was a child I watched those after school cartoons on the WB channel. I got home at 3:30. These cartoons started around 2:30-3:00ish and ended around 5:30-6:00ish. Oh, I'm sorry. I promise not to watch those anymore. Apparently it's detrimental to my health. I swear to god, I think I exercise more than 3 hours a day.
"1960s television offered 27 hours of children’s programming a week, much of it shown on Saturday morning. Today, there are 14 television networks aimed at children (Cauchon, 2005)."
Shall I? Divide 27 by 7 if you haven't already. I have nothing else to say.
"Children between the ages of six months and six years spend an average of 1.5 hours a day with electronic media, and youth between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 6.5 hours a day with electronic media—that’s more than 45 hours a week! (Rideout & Hamel, 2006; Roberts, et al., 2005)."
Let's subtract that 2.8 that you got from earlier. So, assuming the kid doesn't watch TV, he spends on average 3.7-6.5 hours a day on electronic media. For some odd reason, I get that weird feeling that they're gonna count surfing the web for sources and ebooks for a term paper as electronic media. Let's also not forget the graphic designer wannabes that spend a good amount of time working on photoshop. The numbers may seem like much, but I can't really be sure that I can trust research like that without any more information.
I'd like to end this off with one last quote:
"We believe it is such a nominal tax that consumers won't feel it too much, especially if they are educated about where that money goes,"
Too bad we don't really know where that money goes.
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Thursday, January 24, 2008