Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In what way does modernity hurt children's mental health?

A group of professionals, academics and public intellectuals have written a (short) letter urging "parents and policy-makers to start talking about ways of improving children’s well-being." Their letter is poorly worded with some generalities (see the quote below). Though their points make you nod approvingly. it's not quite clear what they would like to change (except perhaps the thing about early and test-driven primary education), and how the society has to be organized to accommodate that change. In any case, I just wanted to point to Chris Bertram's post that has an interesting comments thread.

They still need what developing human beings have always needed, including real food (as opposed to processed “junk”), real play (as opposed to sedentary, screen-based entertainment), first-hand experience of the world they live in and regular interaction with the real-life significant adults in their lives.

They also need time. In a fast-moving hyper-competitive culture, today’s children are expected to cope with an ever-earlier start to formal schoolwork and an overly academic test-driven primary curriculum. They are pushed by market forces to act and dress like mini-adults and exposed via the electronic media to material which would have been considered unsuitable for children even in the very recent past.