Analysis Of Neil Postman's The Disappearance Of Childhood

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Neil Postman’s The Disappearance of Childhood, initially published in 1982 (and republished in 1994) was the examination of the loss of the idea of childhood following the explosion of digital media, mainly television. The media forms which built the base of Postman’s thesis may be vastly different from the technological environment we currently live in, but many of his ideas can be extrapolated to the world we live in today. Examining Postman’s ideas and thesis, many of his beliefs regarding privacy, parenting, and consumerism are now even more glaringly obvious than they were upon first publication. While not all of his beliefs regarding the disappearing child are totally relevant today, the roots of the thesis are, which leads one to
wonder
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157). What that means in regards to Postman’s thesis can be seen as a point in his favor.
New media has brought about concerns for parents and has, in some cases, created new obstacles for them to overcome in regards to protecting their children online. As Heather A.
Horst stated in Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out, “Parents, the guardians of the home and family, take seriously their role as guides and regulators of their children’s participation in this new media ecology” (2007, p. 150). Horst points out that many parents feel that new media and technology are investment for a child’s future and that it can be leverage for
“good grades and behavior” (2007, p. 150). While these are great motivators, there are still problems which crop up between parents and their children in regards to their online world.
What many children (mainly teenagers) and parents do not agree upon is how much they should post about themselves online. Boyd brings up a great point that teens are often faced with publishing public thoughts vs. creating private spaces which their parents cannot see (2014, p.
54). Many parents feel that they should have access to what their children publish online,
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Living in an online world requires a new set of skills, especially in the area of media literacy. Children and teenagers “must make sense of how technology works and how information spreads” (Boyd, 2014, p. 176). Much like the various levels of classic education and children, media literacy requires various levels of understanding which can be uncovered as a child ages. Danah Boyd advocates and argues for this by stating “Youth must become media literate. When they engage with media, either as consumers or producers, they need to have the skills to ask questions about the construction and dissemination of particular media artifacts” (2014, p. 181). Boyd does argue that media literacy predates the Internet (via 1930), education in media literacy picked up in 1960, but that many children today have little training in being critical with the media they consume which is a missed opportunity that must be addressed in schools and libraries (2014, p. 181). Palfrey and
Gasser take the idea of media literacy one step further and call for the creators of content to really step up and make their messages worth hearing. To them, the quality of information is now more important than ever (2010, p.

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