"Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood"
A new report on what we may be doing to our children
by exposing them too early to the computer.
Where I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania, as in many other communities across the country, there is a rush to make sure that every each child in elementary school has a computer. The motivation is fear that children will fail to become "computer literate" and will be "left behind" at a very early age. That this fear is unwarranted is never questioned, nor is much attention given to the effect computers are having on children. As with so many of our wonderful technologies, we accept uncritically that their benefits will far outweigh any risks involved. For the most part, we have not even seriously considered what those risks might be for our children. Those who have tried to point out that widespread use of computers by children might actually be a detriment to their development have been ignored. There is further denial about the sometimes sinister corporate drive to place computers in our schools. The potential psychological, physical, intellectual and spiritual costs to the children who will use them, however, are overlooked.
This week (September 12) the Alliance for Childhood published "Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood," which critically, thoroughly, and richly studies the troubling issue of computers and children. The study was announced at the prestigious National Press Club in Washington which hopefully will assure more national coverage than is usually given to such studies. It is the most substantial account yet on why we must rethink what we are doing by forcing computers on our children. The study shows how computers can hinder our children from developing those qualities or values we would most want for them, such as creativity, imagination and a bond with the living, natural world. At the same time, it points out how essential to the development of a child are the personal, attentive relationships with teachers and parents which no computer should be allowed to replace.
You can read the report at www.allianceforchildren.net and I urge you to do so. (You can also find out about the Alliance for Children by looking up NetFuture #99 at www.netfuture.com/) "Fool's Gold" is of no little significance to those interested in Jungian psychology and in the psychological effects of early computer use on our children. In addition you will find in the report "A Call to Action" which offers several recommendations about what can be done to slow down if not halt this uninformed and misdirected movement to put computers too soon at the disposal of children.
© Dolores Brien 2000