“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” ― C.S. Lewis
Research of every kind has suggested that media, constantly being indoors, over-entertainment, trying to manage children into little adults, too much exposure to sexual material and immoral values at an early age, is destroying the soul of children. They are being pushed and pulled and dragged from one place to another, endless activities, lessons that are supposedly "good" for them, and forced to fit into the time boxes convenient to adults. This stress is wreaking havoc and creating horrendous results on a generation of children who are growing up with emotional adult illnesses at early ages, lower vocabulary, more depression, vastly growing obesity as a childhood disease, and so much more. Premature addiction to sexual images and news stories and acting out adult values is damaging to their souls. Innocence and purity of mind is healthy to becoming healthy adults.
Children are starving for real life and drowning in the midst of an empty one.
But the old fashioned way of raising children seems to be the healthiest way to raise emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually resilient children. Children are natural imitators and so we must fill their lives and minds with worthy people and ideas and heroes to pretend and to imitate--to practice what they will be when they grow up.
May they not grow up to imitate addiction to the computer. May they not learn and display passivity from adults ignoring their needs while paying too much attention to facebook, twitter, blogs and cell phones. May they not copy the habit of observing parents dwelling hour after hour in front of impersonal machines, while neglecting to honor and invest in real time relationships.
Sarah, my oldest daughter, often speaks about what it means to have a soul thoroughly alive. She describes rooms in the soul and heart that need to be attended to, in order for beauty, intelligence, creativity, emotional health, a sense of a joyfully fulfilling life to grow and flourish. These fundamental needs must be met in order for a person to flourish.
I think children need the same protection and nurtuing. Children's brains are being robbed of intellectual exercise because they are not doing the things that children have done through out history. Children need lots of time to have alone-time-imagination--to synthesize all that they are learning and thinking about in their worlds. Children need to be read to, and to have their brains filled with moral strength, values and stories that inspire.
When they are constantly entertained by media, their brains actually become retarded--clinically slowed down, because they are overstimulated and their undeveloped eyes and brain capacity cannot deal with all of the visual stimulation, so that the brain actually shuts down in areas. Because they are deprived of what their bodies and brains are designed to have--rest, play, imagination, curiosity, interaction with real people and real experiences, problems to solve, there is a diminishing of long term emotional, spiritual and mental health. Unfortunately, most children not free to exercise life choices in the oxygen of creative play and have forgotten how to exist without constant entertainment, which prohibits intellectual growth.
Children need to be outdoors. They need time to be bored so that they will have to figure out how to occupy their time creatively. Innocence and purity of mind is healthy to becoming healthy adults.
They need to be around books and have lots and lots of imaginative stories read to them and then have time to pretend the stories. They need lots of time with adults so that they can pattern their values and manners and relationship after mature people rather than always being in the company of immature children or media images which display violence, foolishness and questionable values.
Children will reflect what their environment has produced. If one wants excellence and creativity, it comes out of a life well ordered and planned--intentional living out of what is real, true, acceptable and good. It does not come out of media or constant external entertainment or happen-chance where children becomes morally addicted to cultural values as displayed on the internet, television, and the movies.
May all children be blessed with the gift of play, imagination, free time and the space to be outdoors to explore. May they wonder at the marvels of God's creation. May they have the treasure of real human beings who hold their hands while exploring the world, or who rock them to sleep and sing them real songs or scratch their backs at bedtime and tell them their own love stories. And may they daily hear the words of their creator God, and marvel at His excellence and grow to love Him with all of their hearts.