Monday, January 12, 2009

Parental angst

From the Edge series on "what I believe but can't prove" blogged below, this is part of psychologist Daniel Goleman's response:
I believe, but cannot prove, that today's children are unintended victims of economic and technological progress.

To be sure, greater wealth and advanced technology offers all of us better lives in many ways. Yet these unstoppable forces seem to have had some disastrous results in how they have been transforming childhood. Even as children's IQs are on a steady march upward over the last century, the last three decades have seen a major drop in children's most basic social and emotional skills—the very abilities that would make them effective workers and leaders, parents and spouses, and members of the community.
Goleman complains about the usual things, some of which are certainly not problems for my own children -- busy, over-scheduled lives, for example -- and some of which might be, especially spending lots of time alone in front of a video screen.

I go back and forth about this question in my own head all the time, changing my mind from day to day and hour to hour. It bothers me that none of my children is a reader, even though one wants to be a writer. Both of my older boys have attention deficit issues, and although the oldest was clearly born with his, who is to say whether constant electronic stimulation over the years has made it worse?

On the other hand all of my children make friends readily, and they are, on the whole, a very happy bunch. When we aren't fighting about somebody's homework, our whole family gets along very well. So I don't know that any of them has the sort of emotional and interpersonal issues Goleman is concerned about. If anything they are much more socially skilled than I was at their age.

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