Over the last 20 years, fictional writing produced by young people has become less creative, more linear and less likely to contain magical elements, a new study reports.
On the flip side, the study also found that adolescent visual artworks have become more complex and sophisticated.
The findings, published in Creativity Research Journal, add to growing evidence that creativity is declining among U.S. students who are schooled to score well on standardized tests instead of thinking outside the box.
"With respect to writing, it's hard not to focus on the way the educational system has changed over the last 20 years, particularly the advent of No Child Left Behind that has really emphasized teaching to the test," said Katie Davis, an expert on human development and education who studies how digital media affects young people at the University of Washington.
"Emphasis on the five-paragraph essay and linear structures has not left a lot of room for risk-taking," she added. "Encouraging any sort of creative expression is very hard to do in the current era of high-stakes testing."