Why do we choose to protect our children from exposure to TV, videos, movies, computer games, gameboys, and other media?
In a world that continues to accost childhood through advertising aimed at an ever younger consumer group (6-9 year olds!) it seems content would be the primary impetus behind such a decision. But there is much more to consider, especially for children under the age of nine.
The Waldorf School is designed to nourish the feeling life of children and to strengthen the imagination so critical to the development of critical thinking. The mood of sympathetic concentration cultivated in a Waldorf classroom demands not only the full art of a teacher but the united effort of a class. When achieved, education deepens, and lessons touch the hearts as well as the heads of students. Teachers have found that students whose life includes media exposure have trouble entering into the level of focus being asked for in the classroom experience.
Additionally, the cultivation of the imaginative power of each individual child is paramount as a foundation for the healthy development of creative and critical thinking in adolescence. A reliance on ready-made pictures reduces a child's ability to visualize both the written word (when reading) and the spoken word (when imaginative pictures are given, stories are told, etc.)
Students accustomed to passively receiving impressions have difficulty making the inner effort necessary to sustain imaginative thought. There is growing body of research on the negative impacts of media regarding neurological development, vision tracking, and the ability to focus in school in children exposed to television, videos, and computer games, particularly below the age of 9.
Parents are especially asked to refrain, throughout the years at Summerfield (even in HIGH SCHOOL!), from any media exposure on a school night. Further, parents of young children up to the age of 10 are asked to simply turn off the television, video games, gameboys, etc. We know this is a challenge, but one has a community of parents here to support one's efforts. We encourage parents to seek them out for ideas on how to create a media-free lifestyle.
At a recent public health summit, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry made an announcement that, based on thirty years of research, the viewing content of entertainment violence in TV, music, video games and movies leads to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behaviors, particularly in children.
Recent research media exposure has negative affects on the neurological, cognitive, and sensory development of the child, including speech and language development, motor skills, attention span, perseverance levels, creativity, imagination and initiative. We encourage parents to be informed about ongoing research on the effects of media on the child.