Children Are Being Robbed. Essay

985 words - 4 pages

Children are being robbed of one of their most precious gifts: their imagination. As the Berlin Wall gives way to the Berlin Mall, this phenomenon will become increasingly global. This theft is the result of the wedding of the culture of consumption which treats children as an especially pliable and lucrative market with the technology of television. Here's how the theft of imagination works: young children are full of wonder and curiosity. Their imaginations are easily engaged, and they have powerful natural abilities to play and create. They naturally participate in what child psychologists call magical thinking.Television with its movement, color and sound is very appealing to children. But the fast-paced, quick-cutting of stan dard TV programming is too rapid for young children. Children love to linger over an activity, image, or character. Time and space to linger is the essence of play. Play is the avenue of the imagination.Television does not tolerate the childs need to ling er, nor does it serve the childs developing mind. It simply arrests a childs attention and conforms it to machine-ordered experiences of space and time.The child has no control over what is being presented, nor does the child have an opportunity to interact. The rapid, non-stop movement of television forces a child to be still in order to keep up with the action.This stilling effect dramatically confi nes a childs realm of play, both physically and psychologically. TVs demand that viewers remain in constant eye contact in order not to miss anything reduces a childs ability to explore the world kinesthetically, through body movement. For children, kines thetics is one of the main avenues of play and exploration.When I tell my five-year-old son the story of my dream about a tsunami wave hitting the coast of Florida, he makes overhead swinging motions with his arms and vocalizes swooshing sounds. He will d o this repeatedly until he has fulfilled his need to play with the image of a great, green wall of water rushing toward shore. He fills out the story with his own, self-created experience. He makes the tsunami wave his own.TVs rush of movement, color, and sound overwhelms childrens needs to explore experience and make it their own.Even the most well-meaning programs, such as Sesame Street, unwittingly employ production values, such as rapid pacing, which work against a childs need to linger and play with experience.One television show, however, is an exception. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is paced for the mind of a child. Key words are carefully enunciated and repeated. Scenes move slowly, leisurely. Children are invited to linger. They are also invited to talk back to the TV set. Mister Rogers also carefully helps childre n distinguish between fantasy and reality. When children are invited to visit the Neighborhood of Make Believe, the camera passes through a curtain, and we know we are about to see a story told with puppets. How TV robs children of...

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