Page 3 of 3   <      

More 'Progress,' Less Play-Doh

How Much Is Too Much Screen Time?

Kids watch television, play video games and sit at the computer for several hours every day -- even though experts say that children who get more than two hours of screen time a day are more likely than other kids to be overweight, to bully others, to show signs of depression or anxiety, and to have impaired academic performance.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that:

-- Parents set a house rule that children may spend no more than two hours a day of screen time. This is a recommendation, too, of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

-- Computers and televisions are NOT placed in children's rooms. Children who have TVs in their room tend to spend almost 1 1/2 hours more in a typical day watching TV than their peers without a set in their room.

-- Turn off the TV during family meal time.

-- Don't use TV to reward or punish a child; doing so makes TV seem even more important to children.

Are Geniuses a Dime a Dozen?

Twenty-four people won "genius" grants worth half a million dollars each -- with "no strings attached" -- from the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Although true genius is supposed to be exceptionally rare, the foundation found two dozen in one year in the United States. And 25 last year. And 24 the year before that. Are geniuses a dime a dozen?

I wanted to learn more about the nature of genius and sought out Dean Keith Simonton, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis and an expert in genius and creativity:

Q: What exactly is a genius? Do you have to be an Einstein to be a genius?

A: The IQ definition: According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a genius is someone with an IQ of 140 or higher. This definition is rather arbitrary. Not just the number, but the idea that there exists a test that can provide a meaningful score for everybody -- a one-size-fits-all measure. But notice that by the IQ definition you don't have to be an Einstein to be a genius. . . . Marilyn Vos Savant is an IQ genius, but no Einstein.

The exceptional achievement definition: Someone who comes up with ideas or productions that are both original and exemplary -- models of achievement that others admire and even imitate. This a definition that fits Einstein, albeit you don't have to have a genius that supreme to be considered a genius.

Isn't the word "genius" overused?

Yes, I think it's overused. It's sometimes applied to domains that don't really demand originality. For example, it's stretching the term to call Tiger Woods a golf genius. Tiger has tremendous skill and talent, but you do not need to be original to win the Masters. You just have to be very, very good at driving and putting.

Are geniuses born, or can they be made?

Both born and made.

High School Senior to Adults: Get Off Facebook!

Adam Turay, 17, is a senior at South County Secondary School in Fairfax County. He is editor in chief of his school paper, the Courier, is a member of his school's "It's Academic" team and plays guitar and keyboards in a rock band.

This is his guest blog:

I have maintained the same after-school routine for roughly three-fourths of my high school career. When I get home, I'll usually get a snack, listen to music and surf Facebook for half an hour.

I was sitting on Facebook one afternoon looking through some new photos of my friend at a football game. The sequence of comments was fairly run-of-the-mill: there were some chummy remarks from his teammates, a few gushy sentiments from his girlfriend, and one excessively adulatory comment from . . . his mother? . . .

Though adults (and even teachers in some cases) want to maintain relationships with children, grandchildren, etc., Facebook is definitely not the place to do so.

<          3

© 2009 The Washington Post Company