Killing the soul of Children–revisited

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
― C.S. Lewis

Research of every kind has suggested that media, constantly being indoors, over-entertainment, trying to manage children into little adults, too much exposure to sexual material and immoral values at an early age, is destroying the soul of children. They are being pushed and pulled and dragged from one place to another, endless activities, lessons that are supposedly “good” for them,  and forced to fit into the time boxes convenient to adults.  This stress is wreaking havoc and creating horrendous results on a generation of children who are growing up with emotional adult illnesses at early ages, lower vocabulary, more depression, vastly growing obesity as a childhood disease, and so much more. Premature addiction to sexual images and news stories and acting out adult values is damaging to their souls. Innocence and purity of mind is healthy to becoming healthy adults.

Children are starving for real life and drowning in the midst of an empty one.

But the old fashioned way of raising children seems to be the healthiest way to raise emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually resilient children. Children are natural imitators and so we must fill their lives and minds with worthy people and ideas and heroes to pretend and to imitate–to practice what they will be when they grow up.

May they not grow up to imitate addiction to the computer. May they not learn and display passivity from adults ignoring their needs while paying too much attention to facebook, twitter, blogs and cell phones. May they not copy the habit of observing parents dwelling hour after hour in front of impersonal machines, while neglecting to honor and invest in real time relationships.

Sarah, my oldest daughter, often speaks about what it means to have a soul thoroughly alive. She describes rooms in the soul and heart that need to be attended to, in order for beauty, intelligence, creativity, emotional health, a sense of a joyfully fulfilling  life to grow and flourish. These fundamental needs must be met in order for a person to flourish.

I think children need the same protection and nurtuing. Children’s brains are being robbed of intellectual exercise because they are not doing the things that children have done through out history. Children need lots of time to have alone-time-imagination–to synthesize all that they are learning and thinking about in their worlds. Children need to be read to, and to have their brains filled with moral strength, values and stories that inspire.

When they are constantly entertained by media, their brains actually become retarded–clinically slowed down,  because they are overstimulated and their undeveloped eyes and brain capacity cannot deal with all of the visual stimulation, so that the brain actually shuts down in areas.  Because they are deprived of what their bodies and brains are designed to have–rest, play, imagination, curiosity, interaction with real people and real experiences, problems to solve, there is a diminishing of long term emotional, spiritual and mental health. Unfortunately, most children  not free to exercise life choices in the oxygen of creative play and have forgotten how to exist without constant entertainment, which prohibits intellectual growth.

Children need to be outdoors. They need time to be bored so that they will have to figure out how to occupy their time creatively. Innocence and purity of mind is healthy to becoming healthy adults.

They need to be around books and have lots and lots of imaginative stories read to them and then have time to pretend the stories. They need lots of time with adults so that they can pattern their values and manners and  relationship after mature people rather than always being in the company of immature children or media images which display violence, foolishness and questionable values.

Children will reflect what their environment has produced. If one wants excellence and creativity, it comes out of a life well ordered and planned–intentional living out of what is real, true, acceptable and good.  It does not come out of media or constant external entertainment or happen-chance where children becomes morally addicted to cultural values as displayed on the internet, television, and the movies.

May all children be blessed with the gift of play, imagination, free time and the space to be outdoors to explore. May they wonder at the marvels of God’s creation. May they have the treasure of real human beings who hold their hands while exploring the world, or who rock them to sleep and sing them real songs or scratch their backs at bedtime and tell them their own love stories. And may they daily hear the words of their creator God, and marvel at His excellence and grow to love Him with all of their hearts.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thank you, thank you for this. I grew up without computer, tv, or even videos and while the socially-handicapping aspect still affects me today, the benefits of all the things you mentioned were huge–time to play outside, use imagination, read aloud as a family…It certainly fed everything from attention span to creativity to a peacefulness of mind and spirit.

    Thanks to a challenging living situation, my kids have had far too much screen time recently and this was just the kick in the pants I needed to wean them off. I do struggle especially with the computer because i know those are acquired skills that will take many hours of practice for proficiency, and computer literacy will be essential for them to succeed in our culture. Also, my part-time work is all done from the computer so I feel that they see me there a lot…it is a constant effort to find the right balance. But the junk tv needs to stop. Thanks again!

  2. Lisa says

    This post must be for me. I have been stressing that my 3 children do not want to go to any camps or do any organized activity this summer. My middle child asked for “camp mommy”. I’ve been imagining whining, cries of boredom, and a lack of amazing experiences all their friends would be having. Will my children grow up and lament that they didn’t spend a summer learning to sail, or mastering origami, or play in a rock band? There will be no other children in the neighborhood to play with because they will all be shuffled away to their various experiences.

    What you wrote eased my mind. It’s okay not to parent like most people I know. It’s ok to be old school and unstructured and slow.

    Sally, I thank you for the work you do. Again and again, you give me encouragement and make me feel like I’m on the right path when I am so often doubtful. I appreciate you!

  3. Audrey says

    This is so good, so true, so needed. I needed this inspiration today. This is exactly what God has been whispering to my heart. Thank you,

  4. says

    Passing this on to everyone who will read – your words are ‘fitly spoken in due season’.
    Thank you for heralding the cause of motherhood in our day – it’s so comforting to know that we’re not alone.
    xoxo
    Debi

  5. B says

    My wife sent me this article today because I’ve been struggling with these very same ideas now for some time. Along with children, I see adults needing the same things. Personally I’ve been too hooked up too long and need to unplug. I need to be around more people, more real things. I need more interaction. I want my children to play with me and have the childhood I did. I want to chuck the schedule and just BE.

    A fantastic book that I came across recently is Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods”. If you agree with the above, it will open your world – it’s given me a new direction with how we can live as a culture.

  6. Elizabeth W. says

    I cannot put into words how wholeheartedly I agree! My heart goes out to the children who never have their mother’s full attention due to these electronics that are always close at hand. I have had to set myself boundaries because the temptations to escape the mundane and instead join an unreal world are strong some days. I only get on the computer for an hour a day while my kids are having a quiet time or nap and this has worked really well for me. Nothing online is as urgent as it feels. Thankyou for such wise words!

  7. says

    I love this!
    Our beautiful spring days have drawn us all outside as much as possible. I struggle with the guilt of not doing enough structured things, but it really doesn’t fit with this life we now live.
    I seek out ways to make it all work like sitting out on the stoop in the sunshine yesterday, snacks and tea at the ready for our read aloud time. Somehow, “The Secret Garden” really comes to life when breathing in the fresh, spring air like the kids in the story.

  8. Sally says

    Dear Kimberly,
    What a beautiful picture you painted of sitting outside in the sunshine! That fills my soul as well. Thanks for commenting!
    Sally

  9. says

    Sally,
    What an excellent article. You are so right on. This is exactly what Moms and Dads need to hear. SLOW down and smell the roses. Ordered days may be full but there is no inspiration or fun or excitement or rest.
    Blessings and great to meet you. I pray that we will get to know each other more.
    Janis

  10. Marie says

    Thank you for this reminder. While I was babysitting a two-year-old (9+ hours a day) I let my daughter and the boy I was babysitting watch way too many “good” cartoons. I simply needed a break! I finally had to tell my friends that I can’t babysit anymore. I didn’t realize how much my babysitting, (to help my friends, not for the money) affected my kids until I quit. My son was so relieved, “now, we can have quiet again!”

    This week has been so peaceful and fun! We haven’t had the computer on for hours at a time. My children are much more relaxed and so am I.

  11. says

    So timely…ouch!!! It’s so easy to get stuck on the computer with just “one more thing to check” and life is just happening around me and I’m missing it! You have a quote somewhere about that there are no guarantees that we will have another moment together, child, or anything…thank you.

    Bless ya!

  12. Samantha says

    Amen! You said it beautifully. Your post encapsulates every reason we are going to take the plunge and homeschool our children! I am going to print it out and put it on my bulletin board in case I ever forget what insidious effects our society is having on our littlest ones!
    Thank you, Sally

  13. Kayla says

    THANK YOU so much for this! My little one is only 9 months old, but I already struggle with spending time on my phone looking at Facebook instead of playing with him, and I always have the tv on (for noise). For his sake, I need to put the phone down and leave the tv off! Thanks for that kick in the pants!

  14. says

    Hi Sally,

    This is a timely post for me as I have decided to put boundaries on my internet time starting this week. I had gotten too wrapped up in FB and losing much time. It was so UNintentional, not what I want for my life. Your blog is encouraging to me, so you are the only blog that I decided to read this week. I’ve noticed as I’m putting my time with God, my husband and my children first, I am walking in His peace and fulfillment each day and that is way more encouraging than time on FB!

    Thank you again,
    Jennifer

  15. suzanne says

    very important post, every word rings true and should pierce our hearts. i forwarded this to my daughters…they are raising children against the culture and any words of encouragement are always appreciated!

  16. gingermom says

    this is so good..it made me cry a little though bc I spend too much time online, not meaning to, I never want my three young children to think the computer is more interesting or important or worthy to me than they are

  17. Christine says

    Even though I am way past child rearing (9 grandchildren), I found this to be encouraging for me anyway. What you say is all good but I think my fav part is where it says it’s okay for kids to be bored. I have always felt that way. They are not owed entertainment all the time. They and we all need time for our brains to rest and just wander. Thank you. I’ll be passing this on to my children.

  18. says

    Sally, once again your words inspire in me a deeper more passionate place in my mothering. My husband and I moved from a tiny subdivision lot to a two acre property a few years ago and every single day my heart skips a beat watching little legs run endlessly and dirty little hands and shoeless feet come running in to tell me about the exciting adventures they’re having.

    I’m sharing this article with every mom I know. Thank you for writing it out so eloquently!

    • Sally says

      Tarrah,
      What a blessing to have land and such a beautiful picture of your children playing on it! Thanks for commenting!
      Sally

  19. Christy Simpson says

    So true, as I watch my 7 year old get dressed up each day like Mary Lennox as I am reading “The Secret Garden” to her this month. Five Little Peppers, Little House on the Prairie, The Boxcar Children….these are the characters she & her brothers (age 5 & 4) want to play all day as it fills their soul & imagination. Thank you for your wisdom & encouragement Sally.

  20. Lynne says

    Thank you! I appreciate so very much your thoughts and wisdom. Beautifully said. It calms me and sharpens my focus in this busy world we live in. : )

  21. Jessica H says

    This was so needed. My son is six months old and ever since he was three months old, people have made negative comments about me not letting him watch TV. I want him to enjoy all the things that you mentioned in this post. Thank you so much!

  22. mark says

    Great post. I’m tempted to share it on FB, of course.. when my kids are busy at play! I agree with everything you write. The only improvement I’d like to see is for you to cite sources. “so that the brain actually shuts down in areas”, for example. Is this your opinion or can you back this up? Maybe it’s the researcher in me, but I would like to read more and be assured that this is more than one person’s opinion. Of course, it’s still great stuff if it’s your opinion only, but you write as if you’ve done your research…

  23. says

    Thank you for the reminder that our children NEED time to be bored. Sometimes I forget that – that it’s OK to send them outside on their own to play, that I don’t always have to be playing with them or reading to them or be with them. They’re 6, 4 and 2. Obviously I’m with my 2 year old all the time but the other two can sometimes just be forced to FIND something to do. BORED is a good thing ;)

  24. Karen says

    I loved this article! So true and I am so blessed that our 3 children are now raising children that spend hours playing outside, pretending and using their imaginations. I praise God that the mommies are denying themselves of a lot of useless “stuff” in order to stay home and make this happen for their children. They are keeping a lid on too many activities just for the sake of “keeping up with others”. Their children have time to be children. Thanks for encouraging parents with these reminders!

  25. Danielle says

    I read this a week ago and am coming back to it as God is convicting me to purge my home and heart of all the *devices*! I actually sold 2 smart phones on Ebay this week and canceled my 10 year olds email…what was I thinking!?!? Since I have come down on the electronics my kids have been reading more, playing outside, learning, creating. Some good stuff here Sally…I think this is one subject that you should and could write an entire book on….

  26. says

    Hi Sally!
    I homeschool, have been to a couple of your conferences, use several of your resources, etc. I love your views on biblical patenting and I have learned so much from you. I too, agree wholeheartedly with you about media and such. My two boys (7&8) have become so addicted to electronic devices that it is a daily struggle to get them to do anything else. During school, all they care about is finishing so that they can play computer games. I am so worn down that I’ve dreamed of sending them to public school just so I can have a break from their fighting and nagging me. Anyways, thanks for this post. It was encouraging and I guess this comment is my confession and also pls pray for me! I need the strength to change things around here.

    • says

      Mindy, I think boys in particular are easily addicted to electronic stimulation. I have 4 (19-11) and for years we’ve limited game playing to 1 hour a week. When they’ve had too much electronic stimulation they get very cranky and irritable towards each other. Now, with 3 of the boys being 15 and up and one being an adult away at college we allow them to set their own limits. What I’ve noticed is that they are capable of doing that. I think limiting it in the younger years will help them limit themselves as they get older.

      My 13yo girl doesn’t have any desire to play electronic games. The 4 yo is another story and we have to really really watch her….

  27. sherrie griffith says

    Thank you so much for helping me to see some areas in which I am failing my precious daughters! I really needed this and I am saving it!

  28. says

    What a great post! My husband and I saw a commerical for a painting app and one for a musical instrument app the other night. All I could think about was all the children growing up thinking that painting on a screen and printing it up is the same as actually painting with paints and brushes. It made me sad.

  29. says

    Thank you. This year I used an article called “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” in my English II class. The article presents evidence that the brain – child or adult – can be changed physically to need the internet or the action the internet offers. Not only do we need digital diets, we need to be putting our children on diets, too.

    Thanks again – I’ll be quoting your post next week in a post of my own!

  30. Laurie says

    Hi and thank you for this thoughtful piece!! I agree with all you’ve said here. I’d like to pose that there is something even deeper that kills a child’s soul, though, no matter what their activities are. That is the way the child is parented, particularly whether the child is allowed to become who he or she is meant to be OR if his/her parent simply parents to raise a copy of themselves. Trust me, being raised to be a copy will crush a child’s spirit, soul and every other little sprout that may be growing inside. My husband and I strive to give our children the freedom to become who they are individually, in Christ (as we are a Christian family). Of course, we have rules and boundaries. But we want them to be who GOD created them to be, not who WE think they should be. Our three are now 16, 13 and 11 and are all honor students and never get in trouble. We are very humbly grateful for the honor and blessing of being their parents. We take great joy in being part of their journey! I know we are making mistakes and missteps, but I can say we have respected our children since the moment they were born and they, in turn, respect us. After all, they are not ours, but the Lord’s.

  31. says

    Sally,

    What I appreciate so much about you and your writing is that you strive to stay positive (even when it’s difficult.) While you do make mention of the negative impact of media, excessive busy-ness, and overstimulation, you seem to have a way of positively pointing us in the right direction. As you know, the list of “no’s” and “do nots” follows us from childhood to adulthood; it is refreshing to come to your site and read refreshing posts such as this one that gently remind us be proactive, without pointing fingers!! Thanks for your heart and mission to encourage moms and families.

  32. Dawn Burton says

    Wonderfully written, thank you! I couldn’t agree more! I appreciate the reminder about computer time too!! May God bless you and yours. :)

  33. Bonnie says

    Thank you for your thoughtful article. The childhood you describe, however, needs some balance. Beyond the age of ten, most children until the last 100 hundred years — in civilized countries — were at work. Farming, especially. Factory work since the industrial revolution began.

    And for hundreds of millions of children in the world, still true.

    I wholeheartedly agree that children need to know how to creative play, as I did with my great-niece and nephews this weekend with a few balloons.

    I just don’t want anyone to over-romanticize what is a relatively new phenomena for people of privilege.

  34. Liz says

    Thank you for a great article. It feels line you were describing my childhood growing up. most if my summer was spent outdoors playing, swimming, rollerskating. Such relaxing and enjoyable summers. Nowadays, it seems like many kids are missing out. You nailed it in this article.

  35. Joyfulmomof6 says

    Amen and Amen!

    I am 45 and I know that if there had been computers when I was growing up, I would not have had a childhood. I was addicted to TV and once I got saved in my twenties, it was the first thing the Lord set me free from. What a relief. We have not had a TV in home for over 10 years, and I don’t miss it at all. We do limited movies on the computer.
    This is so very timely….I have gotten lots of pressure to get into FB and other social media repeatedly, but I always say no. People can’t understand why I don’t want to…I know myself too well that it would be a time waster for me, as I already struggle with computer time. This has helped me remember to continue to take a stand for what I know to be right (for myself)

  36. Musimbi says

    How does one find balance?. My husband will spend hours in front of the TV and see nothing wrong with it.At time both the TV and computer is on at the same time. I see my children slowly being addicted and it breaks my heart. Some of the content that he watches even in front of the kids is not appropriate.
    It is a source of great heartache for me as I see the time slipping away.

  37. says

    Sally, I am a teacher and passed out copies of this to everyone at school when you first wrote this. It is absolutely beautiful and true and such a good reminder for all of us. It really spoke to me. There is definitely a fear of not providing enough and there is a fear of providing too much.

  38. celeste says

    The precious memories, we parents, can leave behind is spending time with our children. Playing, talking, singing, or even watching movie with them are the most memorable gift we can give that will last a lifetime. I, myself, had these kind of experience with my parents. I grew up in a generation where computers, cellphones, and internet were not yet rampant. My parents had to entertain us by going outside: swimming, biking, and jogging. An outdoor activities that doesn’t require much of extravagant spending of money. And reminiscing all these fun time with my parents make me feel like going back to my childhood.

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