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12-02-2017, 14:50   #1
mzungu
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The Disappearance of Childhood

In Neil Postman’s The Disappearance of Childhood (1982) he makes the argument that what we define as “childhood” is largely a social construction, a construction made possible by the printing press and the subsequent rise in literacy levels in western society. The general idea is as follows....

Prior to this development, in medieval times children and adults inhabited the same “social and intellectual world” where both carried out identical labour tasks and pastimes like gambling were seen as normal childhood activities. As the special classes of the time had access to knowledge, this meant that the vast majority outside of that had roughly the same intellectual capacity. For Postman, the lack of “civilised” mores that regulate our behaviour (bodily functions to personal attributes that would be frowned on in modern society etc. ) today were completely absent back in that time and “Without a well-developed idea of shame, childhood cannot exist”. In other words, any society that lacks proper education, literacy and a sense of shame will therefore lack a sense of what we believe childhood to be. This changed when the printing press allowed for adults to gain literacy and this acted as a gatekeeper to adult secrets that could only be read by the literate (i.e.. adults).. This created the social hierarchy between adult and child. The school system then became a means to prepare the child for adult literacy. With this separation came an increased focus on things like birthdays and welfare alongside literature that was aimed to promote childhood as a time of idyllic innocence.

This era of innocence reached its zenith between 1850 and 1950, for Postman this era had the perfect balance of naivety of outlook coupled with general protective attitudes in society at that time. This all changed with the introduction of television. This took away the dynamics of the adult literacy world again, making its boundaries porous enough to be navigated by children who consumed advertisements. Unlike literacy, television requires no learning, making it open to everybody to make sense of and disseminate the given narrative. Things that would have usually been consumed by children like superhero movies are now marketed at adults too, for an even more up to date example we can look at computer games following the exact same marketing strategy. The boundaries between childhood and adulthood are becoming blurred once again. Postman believes the increased amounts of anti-social behaviour, lack of respect for elders and use of curse words have been brought about by the negative influence of mass media.

If we can boil that down, it essentially means that Postman is arguing that media telecommunications have a role in shaping society.

Thoughts?
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15-02-2017, 10:13   #2
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The boundaries between childhood and adulthood are becoming blurred once again.
13-year old Cristian Fernandez was being tried as an adult for murder in 2011 Florida. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life without parole. If a child is being tried as an "adult," then does that mean they should be allowed to sign contracts, drink alcohol, get married, and serve in the military?

Last edited by Black Swan; 15-02-2017 at 10:16.
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17-02-2017, 15:32   #3
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13-year old Cristian Fernandez was being tried as an adult for murder in 2011 Florida. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life without parole. If a child is being tried as an "adult," then does that mean they should be allowed to sign contracts, drink alcohol, get married, and serve in the military?
I guess Postman would use this as an example of a child returning to the 'miniature adult' role they would have inhabited in medieval times. The child has had a dysfunctional life marred by violence, and then goes on to commit crimes we normally would only attribute to adults. Postman would blame that on mass media (or at least that it had something to do with it) when it looks as though it was the haphazard way he was brought up that lead to him being a killer.

Although, it would appear that juveniles tried in a criminal court tend to reoffend more than those who are tried through juvenile courts (Bishop et al. 1996; Fagan 1996). So, I guess the question is, why proceed down that path when all available statistics show that there is a higher change of society being in danger again when the individual is released?

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If a child is being tried as an "adult," then does that mean they should be allowed to sign contracts, drink alcohol, get married, and serve in the military?
All things being equal it should. In the case mentioned the lawyer for Fernandez was warned for leaking information about him to a TV show. Information gleamed without the permission of a guardian ad litem.
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Probable cause was also found that Shirk disclosed or used information not available to the general public for his benefit or the benefit of others when he revealed information relating to the representation of a client, obtained in his public capacity, in an interview he gave to a documentary crew interested in his client's case.

News4Jax has learned that the client was then 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez, who was arrested in the March 2011 death of his 2-year-old half brother. He was 14 years old when he pleaded guilty in the case.

The ethics commission found that while Shirk was representing Cristian, he violated the boy's attorney-client privilege by revealing information related to the case to the film crew, during the shooting of the documentary called "Juvenile Lifers."

The Ethics Commision report reveals that, "Shirk did not have permission from Fernandez's guardian ad litem attorney to speak on Fernandez's behalf."

Shirk told the film crew that Cristian said, "I saw my mother kill my brother." According to the Ethics commission, this was a damaging statement to Cristian and his mother.

As it turned out that wasn't true because Cristian himself pleaded guilty to manslaughter and aggravated battery.

Link: http://www.news4jax.com/news/state-e...o-hire-3-women
There is a disconnect there alright. The law that states he is a minor and needs guardian ad litem still sees fit to prosecute him as an adult.


Bishop, D., Frazier, C., Lanza-Kaduce, L., & Winner, L. (1996). "The transfer of juveniles to criminal courts: Does it make a difference?". Crime & Delinquency. 42 (2): 171.

Fagan, J. (1996). "The comparative advantage of juvenile vs. criminal court sanctions on recidivism among adolescent felony offenders". Law & Policy. 18: 77.
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19-02-2017, 09:15   #4
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Age of consent laws tend to define childhood, and such determinations appear somewhat arbitrary, capricious, and contradictory, and have changed overtime.

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An age of consent statute first appeared in secular law in 1275 in England as part of the rape law. The statute, Westminster 1, made it a misdemeanor to "ravish" a "maiden within age," whether with or without her consent. The phrase "within age" was interpreted by jurist Sir Edward Coke as meaning the age of marriage, which at the time was 12 years of age.
The same can be said for USA:

Legal Age of Majority (adulthood) is 18 in all 50 states except Alabama (19) and Nebraska (19). The Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act of 1984 sets the minimum legal drinking age to 21 and every State abides by that standard. Minimum military entrance age is 17 with parental consent or 18 without. In Kansas and Massachusetts, the age for marriage with parental consent is 14 for males and 12 for females, and couples in California, Colorado, and Louisiana may get married at any age with parental consent.
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19-02-2017, 15:53   #5
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20-02-2017, 08:58   #6
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MOD: You are most welcome to post in our forums, but please do so in the English language. Have a nice day, Black Swan.
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26-06-2017, 02:48   #7
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This era of innocence reached its zenith between 1850 and 1950, for Postman this era had the perfect balance of naivety of outlook coupled with general protective attitudes in society at that time. This all changed with the introduction of television. This took away the dynamics of the adult literacy world again, making its boundaries porous enough to be navigated by children who consumed advertisements. Unlike literacy, television requires no learning, making it open to everybody to make sense of and disseminate the given narrative. Things that would have usually been consumed by children like superhero movies are now marketed at adults too, for an even more up to date example we can look at computer games following the exact same marketing strategy. The boundaries between childhood and adulthood are becoming blurred once again. Postman believes the increased amounts of anti-social behaviour, lack of respect for elders and use of curse words have been brought about by the negative influence of mass media.
Extending Postman's reasoning, to what extent has the rapid and almost ubiquitous child to adult Internet/web access resulted in "The boundaries between childhood and adulthood are becoming blurred once again?"
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30-06-2017, 21:28   #8
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Extending Postman's reasoning, to what extent has the rapid and almost ubiquitous child to adult Internet/web access resulted in "The boundaries between childhood and adulthood are becoming blurred once again?"
I would say the mixture of self and social media does go some way towards blurring the boundaries. It is a big negative IMO. For example, studies have shown that teenagers are under pressure to conform to beauty ideals in front of an audience of their peers (Chua & Chang 2016). The peer group will often take the role of judges in the performance, with their "likes", "thanks" and "followers" being used as a arbiter of beauty. Thus self esteem is linked primarily to social media ratings systems.

That's not to say that this kind of thing did not exist before the Internet, because it did. However, like with most things, the Internet amplifies what was there before.

Chua, T. H. H., & Chang, L. (2016). Follow me and like my beautiful selfies: Singapore teenage girls’ engagement in self-presentation and peer comparison on social media. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 190-197.
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01-07-2017, 01:03   #9
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That's not to say that this kind of thing did not exist before the Internet, because it did.
Gina Luff & James Gray (2009) in Complex messages regarding a thin ideal appearing in teenage girls’ magazines from 1956 to 2005, Body Image, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp. 133-136, examined "changes in the messages about thinness sent to teenage women." Sample n=312. Seventeen and YM magazine subscribers. Concluded "Overall, more written messages about dieting and exercise appeared in teen's magazines in 2005 than before..."
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11-07-2017, 15:23   #10
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Gina Luff & James Gray (2009) in Complex messages regarding a thin ideal appearing in teenage girls’ magazines from 1956 to 2005, Body Image, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp. 133-136, examined "changes in the messages about thinness sent to teenage women." Sample n=312. Seventeen and YM magazine subscribers. Concluded "Overall, more written messages about dieting and exercise appeared in teen's magazines in 2005 than before..."
According to Homan et al. (2012) one way to counteract this is by trying to focus more on the benefits of fitness for fitness sake whilst challenging the notion that "ultra-thin" is desirable. This may offer an opportunity to promote a positive image of fitness minus all the negative connotations that come with the (up to know) ideal of thinness.

Homan, K., McHugh, E., Wells, D., Watson, C., & King, C. (2012). The effect of viewing ultra-fit images on college women's body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 9(1), 50-56.
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