Patricia GreenfieldEdit

Mind and Media: The Effects of Television, Games and Computers [1984]Edit

In this Harvard UP publication, Greenfield compares the psychological effects of print, radio, television, film, video games and computers. Her approach is unpresumptive--although the medium may be the message, Greenfield asserts that what we do with television or computers is far more substantive than what they are.

As a participatory medium, Greenfield takes a great interest in video games, believing they may be the heir (and active counterpart to) the passivity of television. She also proposes the novel idea of comparing video games to traditional board games, rather than other visual media. She dispels the notion that violence makes games more popular, and insists that action, rather than violence, influences popularity.

Greenfield also highlights "interacting dynamic variables" as the most cognitively unique characteristic of videogames. Her frequent comparisons of her cognitive capacities with those of her son prove useful. She also precipitates the "girl games" movement by suggesting that games need to be developed appealing to the fantasy life of girls. Greenfield also observes that children may benefit from the mastery of a computer game setting if they have little mastery elsewhere (learning disabled children, for example), but to propensity toward action may also reduce reflection.

In her section on computer, Greenfield notes that children's ease with computers is based in its similarity to another media model, television. Greenfield's primarily examines the cognitive opportunities afforded to children using software, word processing programs, and programming.