Thursday, May 24, 2012

. . .Because They Love You

Yeah, they're hippies. But sometimes hippies can deliver powerful messages.

See, there's this in Benjamin Barber's Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole:
Measured by the time alloted to them, commercialism's pedagogical competitors -- education, parenting, socialization by church or civic group -- come out on the short sinde. Teachers struggle for the attention of their students for at most twenty or thirty hours a week, perhaps thirty weeks a year, in settings they do not fully control and in institutions that are often ridiculed in the popular media. (Animal House has become a more popular emblem of the modern university than the ivory tower.) Pastors, rabbis, imams, and priests get an hour or two a week with that every smaller minority of their congregations that actually attend services. Parents are embattled "gatekeepers" at best, who year by year watch their hold on their children compromised, eroded, out-flanked, and eventually wholly loosened by their rivals in the marketplace, who often target them as impediments standing in the way of access to children, or try to exploit them as conduits to children. The tru tutors of late consumer capitalize society as measured by time are those who control the media monopolies, the aggressive content purveyors, shameless lords of the omnipresent pixes, who capture sixty or seventy hours a week, fifty-two weeeks a year, of children's time and attention.
Scared the hell out of me when I read it. Then realied maybe we're doing right by our kids by limiting their computer usage and television exposure. We do have wi-fi in the house, but none of them have computers or devices -- even cell phones -- they can access whenever they want. We have movies, but no cable or satellite television. As a family, we watch less than six hours of television a week, and when we're at computers it's more often or not that we're working, not playing. This summer, the kids will spend six weeks with their mother at Island Park Scout Camp, far away from computers and TV.

So I have to consider: How are we filling the time freed up by our lack of computer and televison babysitters? We do play games occasionally with the kids. We teach them to work in the yard. The youngest two dance. The oldest is involved in Scouts. And they read a lot, an awful lot. And they draw. They play with LEGOs and other toys.

Maybe we're doing something right for a change.

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