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Whether in terms of biodiversity, Peak Oil, water shortages or whatever, we've looked many times on this show at the damaged and degraded planet earth that we are leaving for our children. This week we take another angle, looking at the damage done to the very brains and minds of our children.
We start the show with Dimitri Christakis reporting on his experiments into the correlation between the TV exposure of children and their difficulty in concentrating later in life. Each hour/day of television a child watches before the age of three increases the chance of significant attentional problems at school age later in life by about 10%. By contrast, each daily hour of cognitive stimulation (how often parents interact with children) decreased the likelihood of such attentional problems by about 30%. Rapidly paced, violent programs are extremely detrimental to children's ability to pay attention and focus, he reports, while slowed paced, more old fashioned educational programs pose no such threat. He reports that exposing mice to a lot of TV increases risk taking and frenetic behaviour while decreases ability to learn. His experiments with children suggest that simple toys such as building blocks can improve language and learning.
We then hear a short piece by John Taylor Gatto on the modern childishness of adults and how it suits the interests of professional managers. Noting a sharp contrast with the USA of former times as observed by de Tocqueville, Gatto notes how childish most people remain, not only in adolescence (which, historically, didn't used to exist) but into their 20s and beyond.
We conclude with our title piece, the soundtrack of the video The War On Kids which looks at the ugly reality of how kids are targeted in USA. Its initial focus is on the dogma of 'zero tolerance'. Why demand that children abstain absolutely from sex and drink but promote them both thru the media system? Why outlaw one type of drugs absolutely but order children regularly dose themselves with a different type of drugs? Considering the media exposure of children to the glorification of violence (that we saw in episode 588), why have kids been suspended for playing cops, for bringing nail files, key chains or other such items into school?