Does tv spark a child’s imagination?

Recently, I was asked to talk about whether watching tv sparks a child’s creative imagination.  It’s a great question, and one that I was happy to look into.

Creative imagination, is the ability to generate new and/or unusual ideas.  When looking at a child’s capacity in this area, researchers most often ask the child to make up a story, produce a drawing or come up with a solution to a problem.  This is quite separate to daydreaming, even though both involve the generation of ideas and associative thinking.

In daydreaming, we often drift off on a chain of thoughts, quite involuntarily.  These private thoughts can be distracting for children and in some cases may not be particularly healthy.  On the other hand creative thinking produces outcomes that others can see, such as a solution to the problem, or a piece of art.

So does watching tv ignite the creative imagination?  Well the answer is an interesting one.  It seems that watching tv is related to increased levels of daydreaming but to reduced creative imagination in children.  Some researchers suggest that because watching tv provides us with ready made images, we have less need or room to come up with our own ideas/concepts/solutions.  So, if this is the case, I wonder if a book may encourage greater creative imagination?  But then a picture book, also provides us with a ready made image.  Perhaps it’s not actually that simple.


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