The Impact of Excessive Media Exposure on Adult Learning
Studies on the impact of television and other forms of media have been done for decades. The majority of them have helped substantiate what many parents have told their children for years…watching too much television, listening to the radio while studying, playing too many electronic games, and spending too much time on the Internet is bad for your brain and can impact learning.
The Impact of Excessive Media Exposure on Adult Learning by The Creative Trainer
Many trainers and adult educators have discovered in recent years that simply being an expert who can deliver knowledge and expertise is not enough in today’s adult learning environment. Due to exposure to various forms of media since they were children, adults often need a variety of stimuli to attract and hold their attention. They are conditioned to multitask and expect not only educational stimulation but also some form of entertainment and engagement in the information delivery process.
As young children, many adults experienced shows like Sesame Street along with other programs watched by children which, while helpful to some degree in educating and stimulating a child’s brain, actually tends to rewire the brain and affects attention span. This is because images and content received through systems such as television, movies, electronic games, and other fast-paced systems set the brain up to anticipate that content in other settings will mimic that speed of delivery. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, was quoted as saying that the pace of delivery is “making it harder to concentrate if there’s less stimulation,” in a USAToday.
Numerous studies on children have documented the impact of excessive exposure to media on the attention span. Some reports indicate that children who watch three or more hours of television a day are 30% more likely to have attention trouble or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) than those viewing no TV. Related to this issue, some research on human attention spans indicates that in the past decade, adult learner attention spans have dropped to a maximum of 20 minutes.
The implications for all this in an adult learning environment are that trainers and adult educators must accept the changing world and how their learner’s brains are evolving. They must address the three major adult learning styles or modalities (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) while anticipating a loss of attention.
To counter the loss of attention, they must also research brain-based learning research and build in periodic content reviews, attention-getters, training activities and even the use of focused media activities in order to gain, hold and focus attention throughout a session. Adult learners should be re-engaged through interactive events in which they work individually or in small groups to review and assimilate session content. They must also determine ways to apply what they have learned on the job or in other real-world situations.
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