Neil Postman 's The Disappearance Of Childhood Essay

Neil Postman 's The Disappearance Of Childhood Essay

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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 what Postman would think of the digital revolution in which we currently live today.
In order to really break down the areas in which Postman’s thesis is still relevant, it is
important to understand how he defines childhood, how it emerged into popular culture, and
what its effects were, prior to the start of its’ disappearance. Postman is quick to note that the
disappearance of childhood is the disappearance of an idea, not something physically tangible
(1994, p. 52). Childhood “was an outgrowth of an environment in which a particular form of
information, exclusively controlled by adults, was made available in stages to children in what
was judged to be psychologically assimilable ways” (Postman, 1994, p. 72). The idea of
childhood stemmed from the growth of the printing press and literacy as it promoted critical and
analytical thinking. Printed media “gave us the disembodied mind, but it left us with the problem
of how to control the rest of us. Shame was the mechanism by which such contr...

... middle of paper ...

...can be taken to prevent the total disappearance
of childhood. Parents, teachers, librarians, and children are all responsible to help keep the roots
of childhood in place for years to come.
Miller_Julie_Assn3_LIS2633_FALL 2014 7
Works Cited
Boyd, D. (2014). It 's complicated: The social lives of networked teens. New Haven: Yale
University Press.
Horst, H. (2010). Families. In M. Ito (Ed.), Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids
living and learning with new media (pp. 149-194). Cambridge, Ma.: MIT Press.
Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2008). Born digital: Understanding the first generation of digital
natives. New York: Basic Books.
Plowman, L., McPake, J., & Stephen, C. (2010). The technologisation of childhood? Young
children and technology in the home. Children & Society, 24(1), 63-74.
Postman, N.(1994). The Disappearance of Childhood. New York: Vintage Books

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