Children, Media and More Wise Words From Marsha Johnson

(SORRY!  I originally had the WRONG link in this post!  It is corrected now!)

This is about media for the child under age 12!  Great thoughts you can take and tailor to your own family!  Mrs. Johnson is a veteran Waldorf teacher and has a wonderful Yahoo!Group for issues solely related to Waldorf homeschooling.  Please see this link to join:  www.waldorfhomeeducators

Mrs. Johnson writes:

“I myself am nearly 100 % convinced that the most dangerous item in the home for children age 12 and younger is the television (including video games and computers). I believe we can trace use of this device to hyperactivity disorders, certain types of autism, and as well, a general reduction of the intelligence level of modern humans. Poor vocabulary (televisions are geared for a very low level of academic level), poor reading, poor spelling, a training for a short-bite experience in every single part of life, unrealistic life expectations built on fantasy pre-scripted television or dramatic episodes which are choreographed and pre-dictated, loss of interest in social or community interaction, loss of confidence building in experiencing ‘real-life’ interactions with physical substances or encountering mother nature (let’s go camping on the WII!), loss of physical development that is associated with moving all four limbs and using your brain to ride bikes, ice skate, row a boat, actually go fishing or driving or whatever.
The worst of all is the ads that show ridiculous situations such as the road -trip family with a beautiful southwest vista, i.e., Grand Canyon, and the kids are happy because there is a VIDEO player in the ceiling of the dang car.
I would if I could, take away all access to children 12 and younger. Yes go to the movies. Yes, go as a family, say three to four times per year and pick carefully and make it a big deal and go and sit together and enjoy it as a family. Go out for a meal afterwards and talk about it. Use it as an infrequent family outing, balanced with other family outings. You do not have to miss Avatar or Star Trek or the Dinosaur Walk thingy. Go as a family and make it a family activity, participating in a ritualistic group event that is rationale and rare.
Children are born with a natural capacity to imagine so many beautiful worlds and spirits. To see spirit beings and talk with them, to connect for a few breath taking years directly with the spiritual world… passes away so fast! Each moment your child under the age of 7, in my opinion, sits in front of a tv or a video land, you are literally draining that capacity like a hose will drain a swimming pool. Yes, just stealing it away.
It is impossible for our children to ignore this beast, in the vast majority of cases. Why don’t we keep a bowl of white sugar on the counter with a spoon, nearby? Or cans of plain soda pop, full of chemicals and caffeine and colorings? Most of you would not dream of allowing your children to eat Twinkies and Sugar Daddies for supper, but would and do accept the drug of the screen, those flashing icy blue brain-wave changing ‘eyes’ to totally overtake your children on a regular basis.
After 12, it is quite different I think, and certainly after 14. But it is not only age, it is also type of being: the highly awake nerve sense child (quick, brilliant, but like a literal sponge) will be sucked much more easily than the will-dominant child (have to MOVE) or the heart-feeling child (who will have to act it out, color at the same time, rush off to dress up, talk about the event at the same time, etc etc). The nerve-sense child has only to hear a ditty ONE TIME and they can sing if flawlessly, forever! :L
Yes, there is plenty of research out there. Check it out yourself. We forget how to think (or never learn), forget how to just be (never without stimulation) and forget how to dream (it has all been sucked out of us….the soil is dried and hardened…).
The solution? If your family is tv-addicted or screen-addicted, don’t just toss it out, replace it with fun and interesting activities at first, go join a folk dance team, go to church, have a family board game night, go camping, and ‘forget’ batteries. Slowly reduce and remove screen time and be sure your spouse is completely on board (haha this will fail is papa still needs to watch football add day Sat and Sun).
Keep a tv if you must have one, and lock it up like you would guns or alcohol. Use it as an adult choice. Figure out how to secure your computer with a password and do not tell the kids what it is. Refuse to buy games or systems and if your children visit other people’s homes, call first and ask the mama or daddy, please avoid the use of xyz when Sally visits, we are allergic to nintendo, playstation, blah blah blah and I would like to ask that they not use that while in your home having a nice play date.
Refuse to buy cable or machines that bring in more channels, etc. If you do keep a tv, set it with a parent-control to boring programs like news on the public radio channel. Use your computer at night after the kids are in bed (7 pm) and you can spend a little time catching up. Avoid texting or using your cell phone when you are with your children. Spend TIME with your children, set aside a time for cell phone use and tell your friends and family, call me at xyz time, please. Otherwise I will be with my kids.
Set examples and form neighborhood bike rallies, bake holiday treats as a group, set up a tree house or back yard fort, build a bbq pit and make bonfires, be the neighborhood active parent whose home is filled with kids and laughter..put on a spring play for the neighborhood and invite others to a bowling party or whatever.
Make it a priority and you may be able to positively affect your child, in this day and age when we are voluntarily allowing ourselves to be literally devoured by the giant materialistic machine of commericalism. Worse than the gingerbread house witch by far, the dependence and consumption of the screens on our waking hours is by far the greatest danger to the human race at this point in time.
Mrs M”

(Carrie here:  I spoke about this in my talk the other night on “The Waldorf Connection”; that there really isn’t any “no” in Waldorf, just the question of  “when”  and how there are some ages to bring things in more than others.  One must always ask oneself when supplying information and activities, is this necessary NOW?  What age would this be good or necessary?  If we do this NOW or my child knows all this NOW, what will my child be doing when they are 10 or 14 or 20?  Things should be different at different ages, not everything should be handed to one’s child on a platter when they are four years of age!  Protect your child’s innocence and childhood, it is more important than ever as they are going to grow up into a world that moves even faster and has more technology  than we do at this moment!)

Many blessings for today,


8 thoughts on “Children, Media and More Wise Words From Marsha Johnson

  1. Hi Carrie!

    While I agree with much of the intent of what Mrs. Johnson (Mrs. M?) is saying, I have to disagree with her statement that “the most dangerous item in the home for children age 12 and younger is the television (including video games and computers).”

    My husband and I are tech people- that is we use technology as a tool, as much as for entertainment. My husband studied computer science & has been a DBA, programmer, technology security advisor, etc. I have worked with library databases, help desk scenarios, technology purchasing, freelance editing of digital files, etc. Technology is part of us, but we also try to get away from it- which is why we bought a house w/ 55+ acres of land, woods, and swamp. Our home is small, so the main room of the house- kitchen/dining/living/office is all in one room, with two desktops & a television. This is where we learn, unwind, relax, listen to music, dance, communicate with distant relatives, and more.

    My family is mostly in RI, with some in MA & FL- I communicate with them electronically, hopefully via video conferencing soon. Our town is part of a 9 town school system- there are about 60 children, K-12, in our town. Very few my child’s age, I would have to travel to get together with friends. Our street has a total of 9 permanent residents, except in summer. So we resort to technology when we can’t be outside (we are in rural Western MA, near VT, so it’s been pretty cold this winter). When we do use technology for entertainment, it is also exercising our brains- my husband plays real-time strategy games, I prefer puzzle games (like the Myst series or Syberia)- something with a good story, but keeps me engaged more than a film or book would. In fact, I have been taking notes on the worlds I encounter in these games, almost as an anthropologist might. I watch Joseph Campbell to learn more about the Power of Myth, exploring more than the European stories I grew up with, I watch musicals, as I miss the theatre (where my husband & I met) and perform for my son, with his back to the screen and a one-mommy-show in front of him. We listen to classical, rock, Broadway, ambient, children’s music and more through our stereo system, dancing around the room, gaining trust & balance & rhythm. Sometimes I practice yoga or tai chi with a DVD- with my son in a sling- as classes are both far away & cost-prohibitive.

    So while I agree- the boob-tube, the electronic teat, can be dangerous, a substitute for so many real-time experiences for many, we use it as a tool. Perhaps we use it too much, and can reduce usage, but it also calms me when I get frustrated, distracts me with background noise so I can focus on what is important- not the racing thoughts there a few moments ago, but the little one in my arms.

    (Not sure why, maybe because I was a media-fed child, but I have an entire jukebox in my head, I know films by heart, and can get “stuck” on repeat, which can be debilitating and leads to migraines if I can’t find an out, something to “complete” like a round or a full song that is presented to me, or something to distract me, otherwise it becomes invasive, repetitive. Something else I am working on.)

    Hmmm, this was quite random, babbling, and I hope doesn’t sound offensive- just a little defensive from one who is still learning. 🙂 Thank you for providing food for thought- it’s actually helped me take a look at our practices & priorities and what our next steps might be!

    Thanks, Carrie!


  2. Follow-up: I just want to say that we aren’t completely addicted to our tech- I turn off, tune out, and grab toys (trying to get rid of 90% which were gifts of noise & lights), tell stories (background in theatre & fairy tale/folklore helps here), read books (inter-library loan is my friend!), play dress up (never too old!), dance to that jukebox in my head, sing, write, craft, draw, and more.

    And without tech, I would never have found your wonderful blog! 😉 Thanks again!


  3. I love “there really isn’t any “no” in waldorf”. As we are closing in on the end of our first year “at-home” schooling, I find myself going back to my old patterns. They were already “waldorf” to begin with, and feeling less that I have to do any one thing in a particular way.
    And I really enjoyed your talk on the waldorf connection. Especially the explanations and references to Steiner. There is so much to study, thank you for the highlights. I was wondering afterwards if you have a reading suggestion. With all the reading I have to do just to keep up on the actual school learning, I’ve had little time to deep reading on philosophy.
    This is partly why I love your blog so much!

  4. I’m on the email list and loved reading this.

    We use our TV (adult choice / vice LOL) once my girl goes to bed and only ever open the computer if I need something (like a phone number or directions to someplace we are driving)

    We do have an ipod, but this is who we listen to music (that and my husbands record collection)…so she knows that that is…but Music is important to my familty — but she isn’t allowed to play with it.

    oh, and I think we are the last hold outs who have NO CELL PHONE LOL

    And I work in information technolog for a living…I’m no ludite or someone who hates technology… 🙂

  5. Hi Carrie,
    You have created such a beautiful space here, so full of knowledge, wisdom and compassion. Thank you for the help you have given me over the past year since I found your blog.
    I am doing a series on my blog called Discovering Waldorf and I’d like to talk to you about being a guest on the series. Email me and I’ll let you know what my ideas are… vined(at)ymail(dot) com.
    Blessings and magic,

  6. Hi Carrie-

    First, you were fantastic on the Waldorf Connection on Tuesday!

    Second, I wrote in a few days ago….still would love to know more about transition times and changes, especially any particular books you would recommend. This entry reminds me of that….

    Thank you!


  7. Pingback: Tinnitus Marsha Johnson « Tinnitus Retraining Therapy

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