Visual Memory and Retention Rates, Obesity and Screen Time

Here’s another post in a series of articles about “stuff creative teachers have always known, and the brain research continues to validate.”
View related brain articles from Neil.


VISUALS are still important, but interacting with content is the new gold standard of learning“On average, according to research cited by MIT, students can remember only 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear and 50% of what they see demonstrated. But, when they’re actually doing something themselveson computers that retention rate skyrocketed to 90%.”

New research conducted at MIT suggest that our brain’s visual memory capacity is several orders of magnitude higher than the older study implied.  We literally can’t get enough of what’s on the screen.


Multiple factors play a critical role in how well people remember details. For instance, it makes a huge difference if people are motivated to pay attention to detail. “You have to want to do it,” said one MIT researcher. Computers are incentives to learning.


Connecting lessons with previously stored knowledge improves memory because it provides a rich and structured coding scheme consisting of both perceptual and conceptual feature dimensions.

Which is to say, lessons should reference previously taught material to improve recall of both new and old memories, and to inter-connect the information-, thus strengthening both sets of memories.


According to a Cal Irvine professor who studies the effect of technology on learning, the Academy of Pediatrics “2 hour limit per day in front of the screen” is OUT-DATED and should only be in reference to “vegging out in front of the TV.  The critical issue is ENGAGEMENT. “

Regarding the problem of kids, media and obesity rates, according to a study published in Pediatrics magazine, obesity rates are not directly caused by the amount of time one spends watching televistion. While some studies have correlated higher obesity rates to higher television viewing, they did not account for the high caloric diets of today’s children, or the ease of access to food while viewing. The studies also did not account for excess weight leading to more sedentary lifestyles (i.e. time spent sitting watching tv).

According to a Univ of Michigan study, higher rates of television viewing were more associated with single-parent households and lower income (unsafe to go outside).   neighborhoods.  TV viewing and junk food consumption is happening without parental supervision.

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