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Bad for You: Exposing the War on Fun

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These are all real headlines screaming about the terrible stuff that’s out there . . . stuff that’s supposed to be BAD FOR YOU. But, honestly—is it?!

Bad for You asks this question and many more—and not just about the things that modern parents fear like violent video games, social media, and dirty hands. Stuff in this book goes back centuries—all the way to Plato (yeah, that one) and his worries over the new “technology” of his time: the written word! Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham cleverly expose the long-standing CAMPAIGN AGAINST FUN for what it really is: a bunch of anxious adults grasping at straws, ignoring scientific data, and blindly yearning for the good old days that never were. Bad for You presents the facts, figures, and a whole lot more—in eye-grabbing graphics—to debunk these myths and give kids the power to prove there’s nothing wrong with having fun . . . or with being young.

192 pages, Paperback

First published January 7, 2014

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Kevin C. Pyle

5 books2 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Scott.
Author 14 books21 followers
February 7, 2017
This book should be required reading. It is all true stories about stupid people having control doing oppressive, totalitarian, and unconstitutional things to children, sometimes with impunity, told in a manner that is both humorous and scary.
Profile Image for Paula.
Author 1 book214 followers
July 31, 2014
This review is of an ARC.

A little sloppy. Dangling asterisks, spelling errors and consistent use of "it's" instead of "its" WILL make some readers crazy. Citing study results without conveying the name, date, or sponsoring institution (not even in the bibliography) chips at the book's credibility. BUT. The topics are interesting, the tone is engaging, and the book introduces important concepts (media panic, correlation does not imply causation, flaws of self-reported surveys, etc) and uses logic to examine assertions in a way that will be mind-expanding for many teen readers. I'll allow it.
3 reviews2 followers
May 28, 2014
This book is a great read about the "War on Fun" and how children across the nation and the world have been restricted from doing many different things because they are supposedly dangerous or harmful to children. Although it is also a large opinion piece, it also presents a myriad of facts and is a great read. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in this sort of thing.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Hobson.
114 reviews1 follower
March 23, 2014
What a fun book. Really well researched stories of all kinds of bad things - comic books, video - and many other kinds of games, cell phones - anything that might present kids with opportunities to experience fun. Love this one. Will be book talking it for summer reading, for sure!
Profile Image for wildct2003.
2,726 reviews3 followers
April 15, 2014
Very good book. Throws a lots of stats info at us after warning us not to let stats quoters confuse cause and effect with correlation. Quick read. Are we becoming a country that stifles creativity and restricts our youth too much?
Profile Image for Stewart Tame.
2,304 reviews89 followers
November 9, 2016
This is, perhaps, a bit on the simplistic side, but then again, it's not really aimed at the almost-50 demographic. My library had this shelved with the YA titles, which sounds about right. It's only my lifelong interest in the subject matter that prompted me to check it out.

So this is a book about moral panics and fear of whatever it is the kids are into these days. Among the various topics covered are the so-called corrupting and/or harmful influences of comics, fantasy novels, videogames, Dungeons & Dragons, texting, playground equipment, skateboarding, hugging, and more. Those who have never encountered any of these before will be amazed at some of the ridiculous things people have feared in the name of protecting children over the years. It's a nice, painless introduction to critical thinking--it even covers the basics of the scientific method.

It's actually not a straight-up graphic novel. There's a great deal of prose--lots of information to get across, after all--and I'd estimate only about 50% comics. I'm not complaining, just observing. On the whole, this book is highly enjoyable and very informative. It's maybe a touch on the basic level, but there's a section devoted to helpful websites and suggested further reading that should provide more detail for anyone interested. Definitely recommended!
Profile Image for Chelsea Martinez.
574 reviews5 followers
December 15, 2017
This book totally does what it sets out to do, and I think it would be a great book for any school library to have. It takes on a number of "bad influences" and uses studies to debunk parental/adult claims that they are harmful and shine light on ridiculous local ordinances and school districts that take actions that end up being more harmful than the behavior they seek to stop kids from doing. I appreciated the timeline of adults in various historical texts talking about how kids are terrible and the various technologies that preceded texting that were deemed harmful to intellectual development. Reading it all at once will make you grumpy, and I do think there are legitimate studies at this point about the effects of the internet, if not texting or gaming, that legitimately push back against some of the technology arguments. Still, it cites its sources, gives resources for the various "causes" at the end, and I think it would be a great text for actual kids to use as a jumping off point for projects or inquiry into the world of social policy and research.
133 reviews1 follower
February 17, 2021
An unexpectedly thought provoking look on censorship and children's rights as citizens (or lack there of). As a nonfiction book it was defintely too biased and went down a slippery slope quite a lot but still made some interesting points.
Profile Image for Ken.
141 reviews16 followers
July 30, 2014
I was drawn to Bad For You, released in 2014, because it appeared to be about the exact topic of my 2001 thesis: moral panics over youth culture and juvenile delinquency. In 100 pages of text, I reviewed how the press has portrayed comic books, rock 'n roll, Dungeons & Dragons, and video games as causal to the corruption of youth.

With the exception of rock 'n roll, Bad For You covers these topics in five broad categories of activities that children are discouraged or barred from enjoying: comics, games, technology, play, and thought. Each chapter is about 35 pages and mixes black-and-white comic panels with longer prose. Bad For You is current as of 2012, referencing the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Despite my previous research into these areas, I learned a great deal from this book, especially in the areas I hadn't written about. The chapter on "Play" reviews the history of the American education system. I didn't realize its origin had much the same inspirations and influences as Aldous Huxley's Brave New World — how terrifying! The authors come down harshly on standardized testing and recommend more diverse, individualized curricula including science, arts, sports, and critical thinking. I also didn't realize the transformation America's playgrounds had undergone — and not for the better.

The chapter on "Thought" looks at the many clashes that students have had with authority. If children can be tried as adults in court, shouldn't they have the same rights and freedoms as adults? Instead, according to Bad For You, schools are the only place in the country where people can be legally beaten. Eek.

I have only two concerns about this book. First, an early chapter explains the difference between correlation and causation, and that just because two things are happening at the same time does not mean they're related. Yet the book then falls into that trap multiple times, such as by demonstrating that youth violence is down while video game sales are up. That's bad science!

There was also at least one factual error when the authors note that Atari founded Chuck E. Cheese as a way to market their arcade games to children. What's true is that Nolan Bushnell was the founder of both Atari and Chuck E. Cheese — but the connection stops there.

Overall, I enjoyed this book: it reviewed some familiar ground while giving me plenty of new material to mull over. Although it's ostensibly aimed at kids, I would instead recommend it to adults who can think more critically about the text and perhaps do something with their findings.
Profile Image for Alan.
1,101 reviews107 followers
September 30, 2014
Bad for You could be very good for you, but—seriously—don't let that put you off. Cleverly disguised as a graphic novel (the promiscuous mingling of drawings and text being, of course, one of the many things that self-appointed experts have claimed are bad for you), this slender volume actually contains a whole series of lively, well-researched and well-illustrated essays about "moral panics" through the ages—and why uncritically accepting fearmongers' claims is probably worse for you than any of the things they tell you to be afraid of!

Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham start with comic books, so their first stop is of course in my own home state—it was in Spencer, West Virginia that the first public comic-book bonfire was held, back in 1948.

It wouldn't be the last, of course.

From comic books to books in general, to video games, to technology in general, and on to the devolution of playground equipment and the hazards of long (or short!) hair, Bad for You covers a wide (but by no means exhaustive) range of the subjects about which we're supposed to be afraid. Along the way, Pyle and Cunningham include some cogent reminders of how the scientific method actually works, and why critical thinking about extreme claims is essential, especially when those claims play so well to our natural fears.

And I meant what I said about this book being well-researched—while the body of the book is pretty light on footnotes, there is an extensive bibliography and a list of further resources in the back of the book, as well as a pointer to Pyle and Cunningham's website (free plug: it's at their website, also called Bad For You), where there are more citations and links than you could shake an angry sword-cane at. I heartily recommend that you do your own checking on Pyle and Cunningham's claims—it's what they'd want you to do anyway, I'm sure.

I happened to read this one during Banned Books Week, which seems timely, but really Bad for You seems as if it could be a pretty good choice for any week of the year.
Profile Image for Claudia.
2,441 reviews86 followers
May 3, 2015
Loved this! Nothing makes kids (or anyone) more passionate than telling them they can't...can't read comic books, can't play D&D, can't skateboard, can't play on the playground...

Pyle does a terrific job of searching down and fleshing out sories of movemets designed to 'protect' kids, which are really about control, and (MY WORD), disrespect children.

He does an excellent job of seating each of his 'bad for you' campaigns in history...going back to the names and leaders, and quoting people in the battles. Did you know that MAD MAGAZINE was the only one of EC's comics to survive attempts to ban and control content? I'd say EC got the last laugh here.

D&D? Well, it all started with chess! A chess critic actually tried to convince the world that it was bad for kids... Pyle gives us the court cases, the suits and counter suits, starting with D&D, and moving through the war on video games.

Playgrounds? Public schools? Skateboards? Harry Potter? All important on the war on fun. He researches zero tolerance as a school policy, and shows how destructive it has been.

His discussion of public schools, standardized testing and homework ae spot-on.

War on hair! Yes, schools and society attack even the way kids wear their hair...he begins that conversation with the 19th century practice of cutting Native American students' hair as a way to separate them from their cultural roots.

Pyle is very honest about adults' attitudes toward young people, and traces nasty comments all the way back to an inscription on an ancient Egyptian tomb.

In a very entertaining graphic-novel style Pyle and his artist Scott Cunningham expose more than the war on fun...they expose the war adults seem to wage on children and teens.

Profile Image for Bill Habeeb.
Author 2 books3 followers
January 12, 2014
I wish I had bought two copies. Why? Because I’m constantly wanting to show something I’ve just read to a friend… But when I do, I can’t get them to give
the book back.

"Bad for You" is a Bizzaro World look at truth presented in a way that feels like you aren’t reading to get smarter. Full of irony, surprising bits of history, and yes — all those things that we do that we’re told will destroy our minds and turn us into psychopaths, but somehow don’t. If you have kids, read it. It’ll save you from a lot of stress and headaches. If you are a kid. Read it. It’ll pay off when your parents tell you to stop doing what you’re doing because it’s, yes… bad for you!
Profile Image for Steven Jacke.
149 reviews
February 1, 2015
This is a look at all the times adults have criticised the fun things kids like to do, from comics and video games to social media to the printing press and even the written word.

This book is a blend of comic book and normal book, which helps because sine of the material is dry. (But warning: An e-ink reader is not a good option). It is thoroughly researched, and probably has plenty of examples you've never heard before (with footnotes, which I appreciate)

But I don't know if this book would change Grandma's mind. It's more argumentative than persuasive. It didn't seduce the rest into agreement, it bombards with facts, occasionally mocking the adults (who deserve it).
Profile Image for Tracey.
2,031 reviews48 followers
July 29, 2014
Spotted this on the library shelf and it sounded interesting.
Complete with a lurid cover reminiscent of the classic 1950's EC Comics, this middle-grade book takes a look at all the stuff that is supposed to be bad for kids/teens (comic books, video games, skateboarding) and whether or not it really is. Surprisingly well researched, with many historical references, this engagingly illustrated and pleasantly snarky book would be a great resource for social studies teachers or anyone wanting to challenge what They Say.
Profile Image for talons-and-tails.
15 reviews14 followers
December 3, 2015
This is such an amazing book! Bad for You is an extremely interesting book that kids will love! Exposing the lies and silliness of "experts" and and disproving the theories of misguided parents, Bad for You explores everything you thought would hurt you- and more! With statistical evidences, anecdotes, and comics, Bad for You is truly awesome. One of the best books I've read all year!
Profile Image for Liz.
355 reviews4 followers
November 20, 2014
This book was overall okay. I felt like it contained a lot and could have been better organized. Otherwise there were a lot of great concepts that I think kids would be interested about and I liked the comic book formatting of it.
Profile Image for Blaine Morrow.
926 reviews7 followers
January 7, 2016
Excellent summary of issues that seem to set adults against youth: comics, censorship, play, education, technology, and communication.
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews

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