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The Deterioration Of Childhood Innocence Due To Media And Consumerism

1916 words - 8 pages

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see,” said Neil Postman in his novel: The Disappearance of Childhood. In recent generations, the ideal of childhood innocence has been disappearing due to several factors of modernization. But the innocence of youth needs to be protected so children will learn and grow in healthy ways, rather than rush into adulthood. It is a grown-ups’ responsibility to build a metaphorical wall between a child’s innocence and various types of media and consumerism. Although it is becoming increasingly difficult due to the powerful world of media, which constantly reinvents itself to outwit the latest parental imposition, the preservation of innocence is not impossible. The innocence of children is what turns them into successful adults, and how well adults do at this job may determine our planet’s future survival. The concept of childhood innocence is rapidly dying due to electronic media such as the television, the internet and corporations that use children as a commodity such as Disney, ultimately illustrating that adults must fight to preserve childhood innocence.
Before the 1700’s, what we today understand as “childhood” and the innocence that comes with it did not exist because of extreme poverty and high infant mortality rates. It was normal for children to help with labour, be at parties with adults and even dress and have the same postures as adults. Medieval childhood mostly undifferentiated from adulthood until the industrial revolution. With the emergence of a larger middle class and disposable income, toy stores, schools and even houses built with nurseries were established. Thus, childhood was discovered and “increasingly, the child became an object of respect, and a special creature with a different nature and different needs, which required separation and protection from the adult world,” (Postman 37). This is where the idea and need for childhood innocence came from. Locke also put forth enormous influence on childhood’s growth when he theorized that at birth the mind is a blank tablet (a tabula rasa). Thus, a heavy responsibility fell onto parents, teachers and the government for what is eventually written on the mind of children. Postman claims that “Locke’s tabula rasa created a sense of guilt in parents about their children’s development, and provided the psychological and epistemological grounds for making the careful nurturing of children a national priority,” (57). In modern days, the idea of childhood innocence is “one that defines childhood, in part, by claiming for it the need to be sheltered from adult secrets, particularly sexual secrets,” (Postman 9). Childhood innocence is the main difference between an adult and a child because “adults know certain facets of life – it’s mysteries, its contradictions, its violence, its tragedies – that are not considered suitable for children to know; that are indeed, shameful to reveal to them indiscriminately,” (Postman 15)....

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