Friday, March 28, 2008

Stealing Childhood

I just saw a news story about a website called Miss At this website(which is very popular in France and England with little girls starting at age 8) a girl can take diet pills and get plastic surgery so her avatar can be the "perfect" weight and have the "perfect" look.
I wont even bother to expound upon the fact that this site was created by two young men. You can draw your own conclusions from that. My point is once again we are robbing children of their childhoods. What little girl, age 8, should be worried about perfection? How can we even introduce the concept of diet pills and plastic surgery to a child even if it is only in a virtual setting?
Childhood is a time when there should be no superficial worries. Childhood is a time to explore and learn and experiment with one's environment. Kids should be outdoors riding bikes and skipping ropes. Kids should be having experiences like carving a pumpkin or dying eggs. They should have time with other kids learning how to get a long and work as a team.
Kids are such a precious commodity and we are wasting them. We are in such a rush to make them independent and grown up. We want them to make their own decisions and then only the right ones.
Childhood is the time to make mistakes. It should be safe to do so. It is the time when you call you great aunt "old" to her face and tell your best friend that you don't like her anymore you like somebody else better. Children need to see the consequences of their actions in the real world and begin to decide the kind of adult they want to be. You can't do that in the virtual world.
Kids spend so much time in solitary activities like watching television and using the computer that they have little time to interact with peers. They don't get into the little spats that children should have so they learn how to disagree but still work together. They need to see the effect that their words and actions have on other children for good and bad.
All those childhood experiences teach one to function in society as an adult. Without those experiences, what kind of society will these children form. Virtual reality is fun but you can't live there forever.

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