SciFi and Fantasy do not rot young brains; they nurture them. My parents didn’t care so much about what I was reading as they did about me regularly getting my ass handed to me at school, but there was definitely an element of derision in my household. I think they saw the very real cause-and-effect of my nerdy pursuits. First around the D&D, which my mother thought was Satanic (funny how many hypochondriacs crossed over into social “diseases” at that time as well), and second around my long hours spent reading indoors instead of going out and doing normal kid things like running until you collapsed and breaking stuff. It all evened out when I discovered punk girls and wanted to get laid. My dad was so relieved, I think. Of course, all my nerdiness couldn’t be kept down forever! It may have been swept under the carpet for a few years, but now look where it’s led me: I’m a nigh-50 penniless poet work on an interminable fantasy novel. So, who was right, Dad?! Me, obv.
Reading science fiction and fantasy can help readers make sense of the world. Rather than limiting readers’ capacity to deal with reality, exposure to outside-the-box creative stories may expand their ability to engage reality based on science.
A 2015 survey of science fiction and fantasy readers found that these readers were also major consumers of a wide range of other types of books and media. In fact, the study noted a connection between respondents’ consumption of varied literary forms and an ability to understand science.
With increasing rates of anxiety, depression and mental health issues for youth in the past two decades, it may be the case that young people, no different from American society generally, are suffering from reality overload. Young people today have unprecedented access to information about which they may have little power to influence or change.