MEDIA EXPOSURE & OUR CHILDREN
Media Use Policy:
Juniper Ridge recommends, along with doctors and other educational professionals, that
parents strive to limit exposure to electronic media as much and as long as possible. Violent images, whether through video games or movies, we consider never appropriate for the Kindergarten and elementary school child. Juniper Ridge asks parents to strive to limit and strictly monitor screen time of all students, and for the younger children, even eliminate it. We support that children are provided at home an environment for creative play and family participation through chores for as long as possible.
Electronic media is an undeniable presence in our lives. We use it for communication, work, diversion and entertainment. It comes in an ever-widening variety of forms and sizes, from large screen monitors that can span a wall, to the cell phone in our pockets that is in reality a palm-held computer that makes phone calls.
Electronic media is a wonderful, fascinating boon to our lives. It also has its shadow side. As a society, we are becoming ever more aware that we face a growing media addiction. It is becoming increasingly easy (and acceptable) for us to turn to some form of electronic media (video games, texting, music, sports, movies and shows) to distract ourselves from work and use as a replacement for social interactions. It is difficult for us to even speak about this because we have accepted it as part of our way of life.
Our children are the most vulnerable. From the not-yet-speaking toddler right up to the high
school student, they see adults daily using these machines for work, for communication and for diversion. Children are savvy. They learn by imitating. What they see us using, they want to use as well. Alcohol, tobacco and driving have legal age limits that prevent too early use. Electronics do not. And therein lies our challenge.
What parent has not given the cell phone to a fussy baby to gain a few extra minutes to finish a conversation or to pay at the store? And then, for the older children, it is so tempting to give in to the demands to have screen time. It begins so modestly, just half an hour a day, and then it grows. After all, it serves the same purpose: we get a bit more time to finish whatever we were doing. Or we tell ourselves it is family bonding to watch something together. And we were all kids, too, remember? Imagine what happens when we aren’t monitoring their play.
As teachers at Juniper Ridge, our concern in this matter arises when we hear a Kindergarten child asking to go home because he would rather play video games than play with his classmates. Or the fourth grader who openly rejoices that school is over so he can go home to his video games and zone out. When we first opened school, we were astonished how many children, primarily boys, who could not figure out what to do at recess unless it involved shooting at one another and zipping around pretending they were in an armored or flying vehicle. Clearly, their play was dependent upon the images from the video games they were playing at home.
With our children, the issue of media use becomes urgent. Current research has discovered that, in children, excessive exposure to media watching has a direct adverse effect on brain development. In school as well as in the home, we are puzzled by the increase in attention deficit disorders and other learning disabilities. Teachers who have spent longer than two decades in the classroom (and we have such teachers in our school) can clearly point to the drastic rise of these disorders since the flood of readily accessible electronic media. We also sadly see a dramatic fading of the powers of memory, imagination and wonder.
Young children are by nature “doers.” Media exposes children to an artificial world that allows no engagement of their own will and imagination. They become “receivers.” This evokes unnatural responses in a child’s being and stunts the seeds of human development.
Not only is the nature of the media foreign and directly harmful to the child’s developing brain and inner being, the content of most television programs, video games and movies is glaring in its disregard for what childhood is really meant to experience. Most media, after all, is selling us something either directly or as a hidden agenda. Media exposure works at cross purposes with what Waldorf education strives to bring and awaken.
For these reasons, the Juniper Ridge faculty and administration ask parents to protect their
children from exposure to electronic media. Without your efforts to keep your home a safe
place for the vulnerable developing minds of your children, it will in turn be difficult for us to
educate and nurture them.
Suggested reading on this topic:
The Children of Cyclops: The Influence of Television Viewing on the Developing Human Brain – Keith Buzzell
Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television – Jerry Mander
Endangered Minds and Failure to Connect – Jane Healy
Suggested Media Use Guidelines
We offer parents the following guidelines regarding media use:
1. For children in preschool and kindergarten: No exposure, or as little as possible.
2. For children in grades 1 – 3: No television, video games, computers or movies during the school week; minimal parent-directed media use on weekends and during vacations.
Ideally, we would recommend no exposure. However, we do not live in an ideal world,
so we recommend that you strive to limit exposure.
3. For students in grades 4 – 8: No television or video games or computers in the morning
before school; a minimum of parent-directed media use during the school week;
parental involvement in determining appropriate media and computer-use choices at all
Juniper Ridge Community School
615 Community Lane
Grand Junction, CO 81506
Juniper Ridge Community School is a proud member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education.