A New Childhood

The term childhood is very understood nation and worldwide. It is thought of as the time from birth to teenage years or sometimes adulthood. Blissful, carefree, imaginative, and joyful are common words that come to most minds describing childhood. In keyword essay “Childhood”, author Karen Sanchez-Eppler characterize this time period as “a site for fantasy and play ultimately produced a sense of childhood less as a period of preparation for adult life than as a time magically and wonderfully separate from it— a period where, as Eliza seems to understand, the rules don’t really apply” (40). Even though this view of childhood is the stereotypical view of today, Karen Sanchez also addresses that the definition of childhood has changed over time. However, most Americans still hold onto childhood being a time of adventure and imagination.

Child Psychologist, Yekateria Murashova, has an interesting view of today’s generation of children being “young people [who] are too often entertained by things not of their making, [and] incapable of finding ways to keep themselves busy, and are completely unfamiliar with the idea of the world of their imagination” (Murashova). This paints a new idea of childhood and supports the idea that the definition of childhood is not a constant. In a study she conducted, children age 12 to 18 voluntarily spent eight hours without any access to technology. Out of 68 participates only 3 made it the full eight hours; the other 65 quit the study with reasons ranging from nausea and dizziness to panic attacks and thoughts of suicide. The view of childhood presented by this study is challenging the idea that being a kid is the time to use your imagination, adventure, and be free. Instead, children are silently becoming slaves to their electronics.

It is also interesting to juxtapose this new idea of childhood to how children lived years ago in the stories we have read in class. In The Little House on the Prairie both Laura and Mary can entertain themselves with very little. These girls were able to ride cross country for weeks with out an iPhone to watch Netflix or check Facebook on. When Pa takes the girls out to hunt with him both can play with the prairie dogs and collect flowers, entertaining themselves. There idea of childhood definitely came with responsibilities, but also the joy of carefree fun with the world around them. Laura and Mary would not have had trouble keeping themselves busy in this study.

The Ingall’s girls were completely “unplugged” and were still happy and fun-loving. Girls who read these stories can see the joy in not only reading, but “unplugging” from technology and embracing the world around them. The study done by Murashova displays a view of current childhood changing and detaching from its “original roots” of being “a site for fantasy and play” (Sanchez 40). Oppositely, The Little House on the Prairie shows Laura and Mary engaging in the tradition view of childhood as a time to frolic and play with their physical world instead of a virtual world.

 

Link to Murashova study:

http://brightside.me/article/a-thought-provoking-experiment-showed-what-happens-when-children-dont-have-the-internet-for-a-whole-day-42855/

5 thoughts on “A New Childhood”

  1. Wow, I find that study shocking! It is a difficult concept to grasp that as a whole, society has become so dependent on the instant gratification technology brings us. I would love to see another example of this study to see if the results can be duplicated. It also makes me wonder about the demographics of this study–it appears the participants were all from a large city. I was raised in a rural area, and had very few other kids to play with, so self entertainment was commonplace. I always found things to occupy myself with that didn’t involve technology. It makes me wonder how our generation, who have as you say “become slaves to their electronics,” will serve as parents someday and if they will take the same approach in raising their kids (with easy access to technology).

  2. I think you bring up a really interesting point that the definition of “childhood”, and I think definitions in general are not constant, as we’ve seen in many of the Keywords Essays we’ve read. I think some of the most interesting ones are that tomboy originally referred to an actual boy and not a girl acting boyish. Also, that the word class did not originally mean the same thing it does now was really interesting to me! Back to childhood, I think definitions change, but with our heavy advancements in technology, I think the definition is changing exponentially more than it ever has in the past. The fact that children have such easy access to technology and that they use it frequently does change the way that children explore, especially in nature and the outdoors. I think the world of Little House on the Prairie is probably something unimaginable to the children today because of it’s lack of advanced technology.

  3. I agree, it seems to me that childhood is slowly being taken away. As you mentioned, in the past childhood was a time when kids use their imagination, they have adventures and are free.

    Now kids of all ages are attached to their cell phones. I remember my parents made me wait until I was in 6th grade to get my first cell phone. It was basically used to communicate with my parents. It was more of a safety item than anything else. Now I notice that very young children will be using cell phones. They are seen using these phones for self-entertainment. As these youngsters get older, the phones are used for so many aspects of everyday life. Kids use their phones to communicate with family and friends. They play games on the phones and use these devices to keep current on social media. Kids are given very little time to be kids. They are given NO time to play. They are given NO time to dream. Kids are now always “on call”.

    1. I completely agree- I think that the use of technology with kids is crazy right now. My young cousins (who are 8-12 years old) have social media accounts that they frequently update, and smart phones that they use to text their friends on constantly. This is a stark contrast to the lives Mary and Laura lived in “Little House on the Prairie”- where the only human interaction was with their family, and an occasional passer-by. I’m curious to see how social dynamics will change in the coming generations with the increased use of technology.

  4. This was such an interesting post to read! It is astonishing to see how only 3 out of 68 of the children could make it 8 hours without technology. I know that I for sure look at children today and their dependence on technology, and think how ridiculous it is, but then I think about how that is all they know. They see older adults with technology and obviously want these things that they can’t have, just like we did when we were children. Childhood is most definitely a changing process that changes definitions based on the time we’re in. We have an ideal vision of what a childhood looks like, and then people older than us have theirs etc. We all look at the generation below us and think ours is better and the right one, and it has me questioning what a childhood is ACTUALLY supposed to look like! Really cool post Taylor!

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