American Childhood As a Social and Cultural Construct

20 Nov

This week I chose to read about how our society is taking the playfulness and naivety out of childhood. According to the reading, over the past four centuries every aspect of a child’s life has changed significantly. The way a child is raised, plays, is educated are just a few of the ways in which children’s lives have shifted. Nowadays, many children are treated more like adults, and are expected to be more independent then they ever have. Another point that the article stresses, is the idea that the concept of childhood really is a social and cultural construct that varies by region, class, and historical era. Even the relationships that children have with their parents and peers is so different than relationships  have been in the past. Things are similar to the past in some ways though. In colonial America, the parents main goal was to hurry and raise their child to adult status. Parents were to get their child to read, write, speak, reason, and contribute to the family economically as quickly as possible. I feel that this is not too different from how parents are raising their children in today’s society.

kids-growing-up-too-fast

1. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-11-14/local/35283261_1_mobile-phone-cholesterol-levels-middle-school-dance

This was a really interesting article. This article talked about how maybe parents are pushing their children towards adulthood too quickly. How signing them up for intense athletic training camps, violin lessons, tutors, and more all before the age of 6! Kids are hitting puberty much sooner than before. The woman who wrote this article, began by writing about how she heard a young boy (about 10 years old) in her after-school carpool, talking to his mother on the phone about it was nearly time for him to get his HPV shot. When she spoke with her friends about this issue, one of her friends said that her children are getting it at 16 and 13, but they will not be engaging in any sexual relationships, because she is in charge of how they grow up. I just thought that was very interesting.

2. http://www.parents.com/kids/development/puberty/how-to-keep-your-kids-from-growing-up-to-fast/

This article talked about how in today’s society, there are sort of blurred lines when it comes to childhood and tweenhood. How little girls are into both playing with American Girl dolls, and following the latest celebrity trends. Being grown up is appealing to children, but because they are in fact still children, they still have desires to just run and play tag. A way to help slow down the process of children growing up too fast, is to monitor their exposure to the media. Children in today’s society are watching too much television (and I agree). Children are also beginning puberty quite early, and are becoming more aware of their body at an early age.

3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21670962

This article was about how today’s society is “snatching away the precious years of childhood”. Young girls and young boys are beginning to worry a lot about body image. Not only that, children don’t want to be seen as children anymore. Childhood is ending at age 12, for some even at age 10. What I found interesting was that the article stated that boys and girls are pressured to take an interest in sex at an early age, which is a terrible result of our oversexualized culture.

4. http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/what-happened-kindergarten

Children in kindergarten are not seen as children anymore. They are expected, before even entering school, to know quite a lot of information. Children are essentially doing work that is above for their level, in most schools and most grades. To push children to excel academically is great, but children are being kept from developing creatively and socially (among other areas). Children need to engage in imaginative play, so that they can develop self-esteem, physically, emotionally, morally, and socially.

 

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