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It’s heartbreaking. When I see a toddler who can barely speak, screaming for her parent’s smartphone or tablet, I’m filled with sadness. My own children, now young adults, were the first ‘wired-in’ generation. As a parent I learned where the traps lie – the emotional meltdowns around wifi access or the latest interactive game, cyberbullying in middle school, and the torrent of violent, highly sexualized and disturbing content that floods pre-teen minds despite feeble ‘parental controls’. Parents have trouble unplugging as well.
When we talk about evolutionary human consciousness, we don’t say much about the consciousness of children. Somewhere along the way, lots of kids lost touch with Nature and their innate sense of wonder and freedom. We confine them instead to an extended sentence of ‘youth culture’, and let marketers be their wardens. What has resulted is deep collective suffering for young and old alike. We have isolated kids from the whole of creation and are poorer for it. Most schooling only reinforces this disconnection.
There is hope because there must always be hope. Some young people are waking up and educating themselves about the effects of growing up in a runaway consumerist culture. They are bringing raw wisdom and warriorship to social justice movements, ecovillage and restorative living movements, the arts, sciences, and more. They volunteer, travel sustainably, and tread lightly on the Earth. They bring ‘beginner’s mind’ to the challenges of our times – challenges inherited from us.
Still, many are trapped in an electronic nether world and the need for true mentorship is very great. As David Marshak says in this edition, “What kinds of experiences and social structures would we offer teens if we understood adolescence rightfully to be a new stage of human development that can allow a more complete unfolding of each human’s potential? This is the creative challenge we need to answer today.” Our youth worldwide are a great untapped aquifer of ideas, energy and talent waiting to be unleashed for the next phase of human evolution. We can and must be the conduit.
Please direct inquiries and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By David Marshak, an excerpt from his book, Evolutionary Parenting
“What our societal leaders unknowingly did in the 1950s in the United States, Canada, and western Europe was to create a cofigurative culture. Adolescents were sentenced to years of schooling, even though formal schooling is unengaging and unproductive for most of them. They were excluded from meaningful roles in the adult world, and teens’ capacity for perceiving the present in a quickly changing society more acutely than their parents was ignored or ridiculed.”
By Peter Kareiva, via UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
“Currently, fewer than one in three kids in the United States go outdoors every day, compared to two thirds of their parents. Per capita visits to national parks have declined by 30% in the last two decades, while hunting, fishing and simply observing wildlife have all declined.
This trend is happening elsewhere, too. In Japan, half of the kids have never climbed a tree and 40 percent never caught an insect. In England, less than one-third of the children visit natural areas more than twice a month. And in China, localized extinctions mean that, in some areas, a generation is growing up without seeing woodland birds or hearing their songs.”
By Mark Bertin, via The Garrison Institute
Kids and screen time cause considerable parental angst these days—and for good reason. Research shows children spend on average seven hours a day glued to computer, tablet, smart phone, or television screens. This reality has created such a stir that last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its decade-old recommendation on childhood screen time.
By James Baraz and Michele Lilyanna, via Greater Good
Can joy be cultivated? And, if so, can we teach our kids how to be more joyful in their lives?
In our experience, the answer to both of these questions is yes. But it takes knowing what kinds of practices bring true happiness—and not just momentary pleasure—to your life. Once you’ve mastered that, it’s not too hard to introduce those practices to kids in a way that they can understand and appreciate.
By Valerie Brown, JD, MA, ACC, via Getting Smart
Research on listening indicates that the we spend about 80% of our waking hours communicating:
Listening, to people, music, TV, radio, etc. 40-50%
About 75% of that time we are forgetful, pre-occupied or not paying attention. One of the factors influencing this statistic is that the average attention span for an adult in the United States is 22 seconds. It’s no surprise to note the length of television commercials is usually anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds.
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