The future of childhood 

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  • The future of childhood
    • The disappearance of childhood
      • Postman: childhood is "disappearing at a dazzling speed."
        • The trend towards giving children the same rights as adults, the disappearance of children's traditional, unsupervised games, the growing similarity of adult and children's clothing and even cases of children committing "adult," crimes such as murder.
        • During the middle ages, most people were illiterate, and speech was the only skill needed for participation in the adult world. Children were able to enter adult society from an early age. Childhood was not associated with innocence,  nor the adult world with mystery. There was no division between the two.
        • Childhood emerged as a separate status along with mass literacy, from the 19th century onwards.
          • Printed information created information hierarchy as there was a sharp division between adults that could read and children that could not.
            • Television blurs the distinction between childhood and adulthood by destroying the information hierarchy as T.V doesn't require any special skill.
              • This diminishes adult authority
              • Childhood is replaced by knowledge and cynicism.
              • Also leads to the disappearance where adults' and children's tastes and styles become indistinguishable
    • A separate childhood culture
      • Iona Opie: based on lifetime of research into children's games, rhymes, and songs there is still strong evidence of a separate children's culture over many years.
    • The globalisation of western childhood
      • International humanitarian and welfare agencies have exported and imposed on the rest of the world, western norms of what childhood should be.
        • Example: concerns about "street children,"  in third world countries.
      • Childhood is not disappearing but spreading through the world.
        • The head of chidren's society: "Rather than childhood being generally miserable, there are clusters of young people, namely those growing up on the poorer end of the social scale, who live desperate lives, while others do not."
    • Contradictory trends - the reconstruction of childhood?
      • Palmer: children today are experiencing "toxic childhood."
        • Rapid technological and cultural changes in the past 25 years have damaged children's emotional, physical and intellectual development.
          • Concerns have been expressed about young people's behaviour
            • Evidence:  Margo and Dixon: Recent studies report that UK youth are at or near the top of international league tables for obesity, self-harm, drug/ alcohol abuse, violence, early sexual experiences and teenage pregnancies.
          • Different changes: junk food, computer games, intensive marketing to children, long hours worked by parents, growing emphasis on testing in education.
    • Childhood may be "disappearing," because of birth and death rates.
      • Example: Qvortup: as the number of people who are parents with dependent children falls, there will be fewer people calling for resources to go to children.This may also make childhood a more isolating experience as families become smaller and there are fewer children in the neighbourhood.
        • However, it could also be that children's relative scarcity will make them more valued and impowered.
    • Childhood is not fixed, universal fact but a status is socially constructed. Whether it will be reconstructed as something that segregates children further, or as a stage that gives greater freedom, remains to be seen.

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