Does watching television makes you smarter? What makes good television? What is it about good television that can make you smarter? These are all questions I asked myself before reading the story, “Watching TV Makes You Smarter,” by Steven Johnson. He promotes that although watching mindless television is not going to be good for you, there is television that will make your mind think and force it to follow events throughout the show. I agree with Johnson in a sense that the “right” television will increase brain activity and make people think while they are watching TV. Children and adolescents need to be exposed to “good” TV, because it will help them learn about social issues as they go through life. Good TV, according to Johnson, can be described as when, “you focus on the plot, and in focusing you’re exercising parts of your brain that map social networks, that fill in missing information, that connect multiple narrative threads,”(292). When choosing shows to watch it is important that people pick shows were they have to engage and submerge themselves into the action. He also defines “good TV” with a basic criteria, “whether a given show engages or sedates the mind,”(293).
I feel that this writing would have been more effective if Johnson had compared shows that were more recent. Although his article was post 2001, many people who read this article in the future are not going to know most of these shows. They only way I knew what most of these shows were is because I heard my parents and grandparents talk about them. I believe that TV today is not as great as it was in the past, but there are still some educational shows that help develop the brain, deal with everyday social issues, and overall make people think. Changes scenes and using good information make the show worth watching. Watching the “right” TV can make everyone smarter. Shows like the news, CSI and Law and Order, mostly geared towards adults, Teen Mom and Glee deal with the social issues of teenagers & Between the Lions, Dora and Super Readers are all educational for very young children learning to read, write and speak. Even though I feel that Johnson writing would have been more effective if he used more recent shows as examples, I agree that watching TV can make a person smarter and more aware of their social surroundings if they choose the “right” TV shows to watch.