by Christine Allegretti
(Park Ridge, IL United States)
The smell of aerosol hairspray filled the compact facility as the music boomed in the background. Legs as thick as my pinky were stretched to the ceiling and backs were bent in ways they should never be twisted into. Fiery red lipstick was drawn onto skinny lips, and fake eyelashes were batted at the cameras of proud mothers. Their bleached blond hairpieces contrasted their week’s worth of tanning and gave the 6=year old teeny boppers a Barbie-like appearance. As the junior Planet Dance team took the floor at Nationals, I was filled with disgust to see masks of thick make up, painted on their muscular, premature bodies. Why would a parent allow their child to do this?
As I thought about the world today and our ever changing and growing technological America, I began to wonder: how is this technological revolution affecting our younger generations? You can send your child to all the baby Einstein classes you want, but is early intelligence really worth the price of childhood?
Facebook and MySpace are becoming increasingly more widespread among the collegiate, high school, middle school, and even elementary populations internationally. This social networking extravaganza as well as the instant messaging world has left experts wondering: could this internet boom be the reason for robot-like children? However, the real question is: are our children today too programmed?
Baby Einstein videos and DVDs have become a parents’ dream; park your child in front of the television screen while they learn and grow before your very eyes. However, this simple solution has been found to do more harm than good.
“The more T.V. babies watch, the more likely they are to have attentional problems later in life,” Christakis informed TIME Magazine. Studies show that these harmless videos could actually be setting back your child’s learning rather than pushing it along. And after all, isn’t the purpose of parenting to spend time with your kids and teach them about things a video can’t possibly teach?
I would estimate that 95% of the populations of all high school students have a Facebook, whether they use it frequently or not, they’ve set up an account and hold a profile with their name. Myspace and Xanga are also popular social networking sites and dominate the world of Internet Explorer. Children and adolescents, like me, are mesmerized by (even obsessed with) this site’s inviting nature which causes delayed chores or homework. A research team that included undergraduate students from the Department of Communication at Bethel University conducted studies about social networking sites like Facebook. They found that excessive usage of these sites left users missing non-verbal cues that are left out on computers; leaving them to imagine what these cues might be. Instant messengers are also more likely to run into misunderstandings with the people they interact with over the internet. It was found that frequent IMers were less able to genuinely empathize with their friends or work out conflicts that require them to see a problem from another perspective. While some young, love struck individuals may see this as a good thing, instant messaging may artificially speed up romantic relationships and could potentially create awkward expectations in emerging friendships. Since girls will be girls, one could clearly see how gossiping, bullying and deceiving become an adamant part of a teen’s environment. Because of the lack of face to face contact, many find themselves boosted with artificial confidence and boldness.
I know I’ve been a victim and a culprit of such activities. I often find myself up till midnight (on school nights) chatting away on AIM that day’s juiciest gossip. I’ve also come to find that the immaturity of relationships that began online is really non existent. Unfortunately, those relationships that start online usually end in the same, impersonal way. Is that the type of learning you feel safe subjecting your kids to?
While the internet may seem like it’s the most potent form
of maturation among adolescents, an even more controversial topic has had the finger pointed in its direction-preschool. Preschool programs, as well as camps and public classes for children between the ages of 3 and 4 have been targeted as a leading cause of stress among kids. Because the parents are working full time, the child is forcefully placed into a preschool or day care environment until sometimes 5 or 6 at night. Is this healthy for your child? Dorothy Lantosca, a first grade teacher from New Jersey, believes that preschool children rushed into acting older may exhibit headaches and stomach aches as forms of stress even as young as 3 years old.
“We miseducate them; we put them at risk for short-term stress and long-term personality damage for no useful purpose,” David Elkind, a professor at Tufts University, expressed. While some are appalled at the thought of our so called brainless youth today, many parents feel there is no choice but to send off their kids for the day. On a more positive note, many of these parents who feel that preschool programs are ok will prove that it also has great benefits as well.
Research shows that children attending preschool before kindergarten poses great benefits; such as higher math and reading scores, stronger learning skills, increased activity, better attendance, improved health, and greater parental interest in their child’s education. In my family, my sisters and I all attended preschool and seem to have turned out fine.
So because of my preschool experience, am I going to become a lifeless robot, bowing down to the technological craze of society? Probably not. However, I do feel that while some early education is a good thing, there is definitely a line that needs to be drawn. Parents need to attempt to spend more time with their children and teach them some things on their own. Babies need to learn through touch and by putting things in their mouths, that’s normal. Videos and television take away these crucial aspects of learning-don’t you want your child to reach their fullest potential? I feel many of today’s video education series should be taken off the shelves for young infants. An increase in one-on-one interaction between child and parent needs to be thought of in a more positive light. Your children won’t stay innocent forever; might as well teach them what you can while they’ll still listen. Where will they be in twenty years? That’s a great question that only you can help them answer.Bibliography
Paul, Pamela. “Want a Brainier Baby?” 08 Jan, 2006. Time Magazine. 11 April, 2008. < http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1147180,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-bottom >.
Park, Alice. Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All. 6 Aug. 2007. TIME Magazine. 7 April. 2008. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1650352,00.html.
Opposing View Points: America’s Youth. 2008 Gale Group. 2 April. 2008.
“Preschool Programs.” Issues and Controversies. 14 April. 2000. Issues & Controversies@facts.com.
Maine Township District 207, Park Ridge, IL. 8 April, 2008. http://www.2facts.com/ICOF/Search/i0500770.asp?DBType=ICOF&back=f#i0500770_1.
See source 3.