play again

From Waldorf in the Home:

Nielsen, the ratings company, recently reported that kids ages 2 to 5 spend an average of 32 hours a week in front of a screen, outpacing older kids (children 6 to eleven are second, averaging 28 hours a week, with researchers thinking that school keeps them from first place).

Thirty-two hours a week is practically a full-time job! Twenty-eight hours a week is more than a college education. Do we really want our children to be getting a degree in media watching???

Tifanie at NoddyBoom just sent me this:


Last night D went to see Susan Johnson, MD speak on children & media.   Sigh.  What can I possibly say about this?  I vividly remember my fourth-grade year in San Francisco.  Both of my parents were working full-time.  When I was supposed to be heading down to my public school 6 blocks away, I was instead sitting in front of our little dial-tuner television set, watching, in order:

My Little Ponies

Gummy Bears

Rainbow Brite

The Brady Bunch

I Love Lucy

The Love Boat

I Dream of Genie

Eventually I would head down to school with my key around my neck & turn in the letter I had written from my mom explaining why I was late.  I guess since I made it they were happy & I got away with that for years.  Really, for years.  Where was my little brother I was supposed to be in charge of?  I have no idea!  That simple little box was so much more interesting than my friends, my lessons, real life.  

This morning I was explaining to the kids how our brains are full of millions of lentils (brain cells) & every time we do something or learn something or think something or speak something for the first time a lentil sprouts & when it happens again it grows thicker & thicker & connects to the other little lentils & that becomes the garden in our minds.  Hopefully it's a garden that is complex & full of rich life-giving connections.  And that we want to keep sprouting as many of our lentils as possible with new, real life experiences.  And that when we watch TV we just thicken the same lentil-tails from the first time we watched tv, over & over again.  And yes, the brain does eventually wash away those lentils that haven't yet sprouted.  So even though I know they want to watch Dinosaur Train on PBS kids & they are dying to see their crazy Auntie Nikki on YouTube, they are just going to have to wait until Saturday afternoons.  At which point they can have 2 hours of screen time & then we can head outside.  To release all of the adrenaline that comes up while little bodies go into survival-mode in front of those screens.  And yes, that includes computers & Ipods.

Joseph Chilton Pierce explains it better for adults in Evolution's End.  

But not everyone wants to monitor all that.  My kids are still young.  And many of us want our kids to have free access to as much information as possible.  If they are anything like the homeschoolers my brothers & I were, then nothing can quench their thirst for media, anyways.   So... Can't we just head outside?  If we can just be off-screen more than on, outside more than in, I think the Earth & Spirit will have their way with us.  In an urban environment?  Nature shows up in the sky, in the form of old things becoming older, in the leftover bits of industry.  If we can walk with our children where there is a breeze, a chill & the sun can graze our cheeks, then it won't be long before we can play again.