Actor and national outreach director for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital Marlo Thomas says, “Whether the story is terrorism, economic turmoil, global warming, or racial tensions, children are being raised in fear and are having an increasingly difficult time remaining, well, children. Fold in a world of bullying and the constant pin pricks of social media, and you begin to get the disturbing picture.”
She then went on to seek input from educator Michael Levine, head of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, who explains, “… Tweens today are experiencing an adult world without the life experience or cognitive abilities to process it or make sense of it. This exposure creates a ‘modeling crisis’ in which children race toward adulthood unprepared and, in many cases, damaged. This isn’t just a parenting problem but a societal one.”
Adds Thomas, “Today, the angry impulse toward division is inescapable for adults and children alike. These kids are getting it in large doses and most dramatically in this election cycle. These ‘always connected’ youth devour a swamp of low-quality, stereotypical offerings that too often conflict and may compromise children’s social relations and identity needs…”
Then she ends with with this admonition: “We as a society need to take stock of how today’s messages and programming are affecting children. What kind of world will be created by a generation of Americans seared by anger and numbed to hate?”
Do we really want to find out?
It might not be just a parent problem, since even schools are promoting electronics, but home is a good starting place. After all, the tendency to use such gadgets as babysitters may buy precious quiet time for us adults but those youngsters grow into addicted tweens and teens who even sleep with their smartphones, popping up every time it beeps for their attention, the world at their fingertips.
A brave new world, indeed.