Woman’s Work?

In recent years with women in the workplace and the focus on gender equality, there has been much discussion about the need for equality on the home front. This translates as men sharing in the domestic sphere, namely child care, cleaning, cooking among other chores.

At the same time, a familiar complaint is that the bulk of responsibility seems to fall on the woman, not only at home but in the eyes of the world. The school nurse calls the mom if the child is not well, teacher conferences and medical appointments seem to fall on the mother. Even with couples who aspire to a division of labor, women seem to end up with most of the work while men take out the garbage.

Years ago, someone gave me a book called “What Dr. Spock Never Told Us.” One entry was called “Traitor’s Throat,” the definition of which was, “When a baby cries loud enough to wake the father but not the mother.” The current complaint is the opposite.

I was once invited to sit in on a women’s group discussing this issue. Interesting was hearing them regaling their complaints about male incompetence at domestic chores. Typical was, “He said he would wash the bathroom floor – you can imagine what it looked like – had to do it over anyway.”

Having worked with many couples, I have also heard the criticisms leveled at fathers about the nature of their child care. Fathers themselves have told me about their attempts at handling children the way their wives do, the criticism they have received and the feeling of failure this inspires. Easier to just stay out of the way.

Is it possible that women are invested in their superior abilities caring for children and running the household? Having been relegated to that role for so many years and made to feel inadequate at “men’s work,” it would not be surprising if there was an ongoing feeling of pride and an investment in those areas of achievement.

On the other hand, some interesting observations have emerged from studies of same-sex couples solutions to parenting and domestic chores. Older research had concluded that same-sex couples divide up chores more equally, unlike the more familiar division by gender. However, more recent studies have found that when same-sex couples have children they often begin to divide things as heterosexual couples do.

Though the couples are still more equitable, one partner often has higher earnings and one a greater share of household chores and child care. This seems to suggest that this role division is not just about gender. Apparently, work and much of society are still organized for single-earner families. Especially once there are children, the pressure exists for this kind of division of labor.

The circumstances of life that couples face include employers who expect total availability, the absence of paid parental leave and the lack of good, affordable child care. Pressure also comes from the expectations of pediatricians and school personnel that a parent – usually the mother – will be available when called upon.

The point is that society at large has not caught up with the changes in family life brought about by women’s changed role. In part that is due to the nature of the resistance to that changed role. The work place has only gradually added benefits such as paid leave and on-site child care. A segment of the population still believes that a woman’s place is in the home and fights against the social supports needed for a different role.

As the struggle continues for those needed supports, hopefully men will become more competent at “woman’s work.”

Learning From Differences

In his book, “Far From the Tree,” Andrew Solomon points out that the use of the term “reproduction” in regard to having a baby is misleading in suggesting that two people are coming together to reproduce themselves. He thinks this expresses the deep wish that it is ourselves that we would like to see live forever, not someone with a personality of his own. Many of us are unprepared for children who present unfamiliar needs.

Solomon writes that parenthood “abruptly catapults us into a permanent relationship with a stranger”, and the more foreign seeming the stranger, the more negative we are apt to become. During pregnancy we have so many pictures in our mind of who this baby is, often of who we would like her to be. But one of our first tasks as parents is to put aside the imagined baby and now come to know and relate to the real one.

Although Solomon is writing about extreme situations of children falling “far from the tree”, those profoundly different from parental expectations, so much of what he points to has meaning for the more usual experience of parents. Even when we feel our children are not strangers to us, and that we know them well, they often change – or may seem to change – as they move through new developmental stages.

Many times, the feeling of confusion, or even resentment, aroused by a child’s behavior that is not recognized and understood causes an interruption or even a break in a parent/child relationship. Solomon writes that when children are like us they seem like our most precious admirers, but when they differ they can be our worst detractors. Our inability to understand their behavior can leave us feeling incompetent as parents.

Children born with serious deficits often are unable to communicate their needs and wishes in ways that parents can read. Handicapped in their ability to respond appropriately to meet their children’s needs, a failure is created in the parent-child relationship. Handicapped children lead to handicapped parents. This relates to Solomon’s point that “the more foreign seeming the stranger, the more negative we are apt to become.”

Having worked for many years with parents of children who had serious deficits, what stood out was the need to decode children’s atypical means of communication, which often took the form of unacceptable behavior. It became necessary to think more about the context and therefore the meaning of the behavior in order to know how to respond.

In one situation a child whose remoteness led his mother to believe he was completely indifferent to her, would come from the children’s group and stand behind his mother’s chair in another room. To the mother this meant that he was leaving the place he was supposed to be and she would either scold him or ignore him. To the others present it was clear that the child needed his mother and came to her for reassurance. As the mother came to understand this she was able to respond to him in the way he was seeking and he in turn became more outgoing and direct in his communication.

The importance of thinking about the meaning of behavior in responding to our children is something that became very clear working with children whose deficits limited the range of their communication skills. But it is a lesson to be applied in responding to the range of developmental differences in normally developing children.

Solomon wisely writes that we must love our children for themselves, and “not for the best of ourselves in them”. This is often hard to do, but as he says, “loving our children is an exercise for the imagination.”

Ghosts and Monsters

Different kinds of ghosts and monsters frighten our children. Bedtime is a favorite for seeing monsters under the bed, or ghosts in the closet, making going to sleep impossible, and creating a need to have parents stay close by.

Danny Kaye, the comedian/actor had a song called, “Mommy, Gimme a Drink of Water.” Using a child’s voice he acts out all the devices children use to bring a parent back into the room after the final story and goodnight. The drink of water is a favorite, as well as needing to go potty. But being afraid of the ghosts and monsters in the room is a big one, leading the child to call out in a frightened voice.

Parents are sometimes dismissive of fears that seem merely a product of children’s imagination. But children are not comforted by the reassurance that the ghosts and monsters are not there. In her book, “The Magic Years”, Selma Fraiberg gives us insight into the minds of young children, when fantasy is more developed than logic and children believe that their thoughts and behavior make things happen in the outside world. In their magical thinking thoughts, behavior, and feelings are responsible for events around them.

As we know, children often have angry thoughts and wishes about their parents, who can seem frustrating and mean in their eyes. Children misbehave or do things of which their parents don’t approve. If something bad happens they may believe their behavior is responsible. It is not unusual for children to believe that unfortunate events are a punishment for “bad” thoughts or behavior. Children’s separation anxiety can be an expression of the fear that something may happen to the parent or to them unless the parent is close by – even a fear that their own impulses may break loose and wreak havoc.

The ghosts and monsters that children see are stand-ins for their own frightening thoughts, feelings and impulses. They are frightening because in children’s magical thinking they are responsible for the bad things that happen. The struggle with these monsters and ghosts reflect children’s inner struggle with their own forbidden wishes and the untamed impulses that often lead to unacceptable behavior.

A mother of a three-year-old who has a new baby sister told me that she has let the older girl watch cartoons in order to nurse the baby undisturbed. Now the child has suddenly become afraid to go to sleep, saying the cartoon monster is under the bed. It seemed likely that the monster was a stand-in for her own angry feelings about mom nursing the baby, excluding her.

The fight against imagined ghosts and monsters is a psychological battle in which children seek the power of their parents to protect them. It is a struggle in which children fight to overcome the ghosts and monsters or at least hold them at bay. Their fears are real even though the reason they give for the fear may be imaginary. They need the reassurance that they have their parents’ support and will not be alone in their struggle.

In fact, parents are more powerful than the ghosts and monsters. It is with their help and support that children overcome destructive impulses and behavior. It is through an alliance with parents, the wish for their approval, that children are enabled to keep those impulses in check and to adopt parental standards for behavior.

More reassuring than trying to persuade children that there are no ghosts or monsters, is letting them know that their parents, will protect them and keep them safe from all those creatures.

Is Quicker Better?

Particular concerns of parents about child rearing seem to come in waves, like the tides, washing in anxieties around specific issues. A current wave seems to be that of “potty” training with a focus on how quickly it can be accomplished – three days, three hours, apparently the quicker the better. One can speculate about what has made this the issue at this particular time.

In general, parents are subject to considerable pressure these days with both parents working and child care a major issue. As a result, children start “school” at earlier and earlier ages, which may put some pressure on the issue of toileting. Some groups of young children are amenable to changing diapers while older groups may require that children be trained by the time they enter.

The question arose in several situations I encountered recently. A child turned up in a preschool group with a doll potty and the requisite doll to go with it. This created quite a situation in that the mother had to leave for work but the child was apparently unsure of how to proceed without her. I came to understand what this was about when another mother consulting me about toilet training asked me about the book, “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day,” by the psychologists Nathan Azrin and Richard Foxx. Are parents influenced by books like these or are the books written in response to parental needs?

In any case, ideas about toilet training like almost every other area of child rearing, have undergone numerous changes over the years. The areas of concern that arise usually relate to the issue of socializing children such as sleeping through the night, using utensils, feeding and dressing oneself, and of course, giving up diapers and using the toilet. These are steps on the road to independence, which mean less work for parents. Along the way, the role of parents in a child taking these steps has become intertwined with the question of child development.

The question of what is best for children contrasted to what may be best for parents, is one that arises in the various methods that have been recommended over time as “best” in accomplishing these developmental steps. Not that long ago what was considered best for children was to achieve adult behavior as soon as possible. What was best for parents was what was best for children.

The advent of the child study movement and the influence of psychoanalytic theory changed the focus to the needs of the child, creating a major impact on child-rearing methods. That shift is most apparent in the influence of Dr. Benjamin Spock, a pediatrician/psychiatrist whose book on child care written after the second world war, the first paperback selling for twenty-five cents, reached a generation of parents becoming something like a bible.

Spock’s approach regarding toilet training was, “The best method of all is to leave bowel training almost entirely up to your baby.” In later editions of his book, Spock began to back-track writing, “the method of waiting for the child to take the initiative didn’t work for some parents at all.”

Toilet training went from holding a baby over the toilet during infancy as the method of training, to leaving it entirely up to the child. Neither extreme seemed to work very well. Now the approach seems to reflect an attempt to consider the needs of both child and parents by accomplishing training quickly in accordance with an understanding of child development.  Yet even “training in less than a day” requires a child’s readiness for training, signs of which have been recognized as the precursor to successful training. Readers are warned that the recommended technique requires extensive preparation.

The real issue seems to be identifying a child’s readiness for training. There is no way to make that development happen quickly.

Unhappy Reality Thinking

The mother of a nine-year-old girl talked about the impact of gun violence on their lives. The school’s focus on security has resulted in frequent drills in which children have been instructed where and how to hide. They practice regularly and have learned the routine about alerts and when it is safe to move. Her daughter talks about this at home.

I asked if any attention is given to the feelings this arouses in the children. In response the mom began to talk about her own feelings. She said that she has had talks with her daughter in which she emphatically instructed her to stay focused on her own safety. In particular, she is not to worry about anyone else and in no way try to help anyone else, no matter what the situation.

The mother than expressed with emotion how unbelievable it was to hear herself counseling her child to think only of herself and not to act thinking that she can save someone else. She believes the most natural impulse would be to try to help someone and that in this situation not only would that be dangerous but would also jeopardize her own child’s safely. The mom finds herself preoccupied with her own child’s safety above all.

She then related an anecdote about a recent occurrence on this subject. Over the weekend she was trying to complete a school assignment of her own. A friend, wanting to be helpful offered to take her child and the friend’s child to the movies. At first feeling delighted by the offer, she then began to think of the potential danger in the situation.

The movies now presented a hazard, leading the mother to feel she did not want her child in that situation without her. She thanked her friend but declined the invitation with some embarrassment, explaining the reason for her decision. Her friend then told her that she had also offered to include another child in her invitation and the mother of that child declined, giving the same reason.

The mother asked how it was possible to be worrying about the danger of going to the movies, thinking about the safest place to sit, looking for the nearest exit. Most of all, she feels upset to be counseling her child to be concerned only about herself. Sadly, this seems to her to be the reality of life these days. Her own child is her primary concern.

As a parent, this mother – and others – are focused on their own children. Yet many young people seem to be finding strength and taking comfort in joining with others. The stress they are experiencing is being expressed as anger in organized protests, taking responsibility for demanding the protection that has not been afforded by the adults.

In the most recent organized protest, thousands of high school students walked out of school to rally against guns, saying they live in a world of potential Columbines. Students spoke of active shooter drills, backpack and locker searches, and mock lockdowns sitting in silence in classrooms with the lights turned out.

At the same time, the New York City Department of Education said that it would consider leaving school to attend the protest an unexcused absence. For some students there would be consequences. There is something questionable going on. Schools offer drills, searches and lockdowns, increasing stress. Yet young people expressing feelings of protest are met with a punitive response from authority.

Parents think primarily of their own children, schools seek to maintain their authority, and children are left as the ones trying to solve the problem.

Separation Strategies

Young children dropped off at preschool by their parents often demonstrate various ways of handling initial anxiety about separation. In a recent observation, two little girls arriving at different times each carried a pocketbook. One of the girls also had a doll on her other arm. Although both of the children joined the group in a circle on the floor, seemingly without difficulty, it was clear in both instances that they were holding on protectively to their possessions.

Fascinating to watch was the way each in turn became interested in using the play materials available but were not willing to let go of their pocketbooks and for one child her doll. One girl solved the problem by first dangling her pocketbook over her arm and then tucking it under her leg. The other child had more of a problem trying to handle the doll and pocketbook while freeing her hands to use play materials in the way she wanted to. She struggled to keep both items under one arm while trying to free the other. As they moved on to other activities, the teacher was able to persuade her to leave the pocketbook on a shelf where she could see it but she held on tightly to the doll.

Children often bring things with them to help them make that transition from the security of home and parents to school or other new places. Holding on to those objects tells us that they are not quite ready to give themselves over to the new environment. Their behavior acts out that old Jimmy Durante song, “Did you ever get the feeling that you wanted to go while you also had the feeling that you wanted to stay?  We can see from their behavior when they’re ready to stay.

Parents often have those same moment of indecision when it comes to separating from their children. A group of mothers talked about their own strategies for dealing with feelings about separation – their own feelings as well as their children’s. In this new technological world, questions about the use of “face time” were raised. One mom said she had used it successfully with her older child but her eighteen-month-old became very upset about the image without the actual presence. Another mom said it had been successful as a way to maintain contact with her son’s father when he was away, but she has only used when she was the one present – never when she was away.

While the mothers were talking a child in another room began crying hysterically. One mother, recognizing it was her child went to get him from where he had been playing with an adult supervising. It turned out that she had been with him for a while in that room but then left, “sneaking out” so as not to upset him. She realized that it was his sudden awareness that she was gone that set off his upset. Thinking she would make things easier if he didn’t know she was leaving, it ended up making things worse.

Another mom compared this to her baby crying during the night. She discovered that rushing in to comfort her did not help the situation. She learned to listen to the cry in order to determine if she was really needed but it was hard for her not to respond immediately. The mothers agreed that it was painful to hear your child crying but in trying to avoid it, or prevent it from happening, one could create another problem.

As parents we can learn from children’s behavior that given the initial support they need, they devise their own strategies for dealing with things they find difficult

Tomorrow’s Antiques

A group of child psychiatrists in training were learning about various theories of child development that have emerged over time. A film portrayed the influence of research into animal behavior, monkeys in particular. A famous study showed striking differences in development and behavior of monkeys raised in different ways.

Some monkeys taken from their mothers at birth were placed with padded cloth surrogate “mothers,” while others were placed with plain wired dummies. Both groups were fed appropriately. As time passed, the monkeys in the padded dummy group developed in ways closer to expected, while the other group became increasingly withdrawn, avoided social contact, and engaged in atypical behavior.

Other aspects of this research sought to identify those elements that were essential to normal development. One such appeared to be the need for mobility and appropriate sensory stimulation. Monkey who were raised in an environment where they were able to climb and move about freely, developed in more typical ways. Those restricted, appeared withdrawn and depressed, showing little interest in their environment.

The doctor leading this group of trainees suggested that if researchers spent time in antique shops they would discover what earlier generations believed was important for child development. In this instance he was referring to the prevalence of rocking chairs, cradles and all manner of items that provided opportunities for movement. Of course, these in turn were replacements for an era in which babies were carried on their mothers’ backs.

The question this brings to mind is what would researchers find in the antiques stores of tomorrow that would tell them what today’s parents have come to believe is essential for child development? Of course, parents of different cultures have all found their own ways of raising children they deem successful and those ways are passed from one generation to the next. At the same time research in child development has led to new theories which give rise to new ideas about the best ways to provide what children need as they grow.

The problem that grows out of this process is the idea that there is one right way to do things and the fear that any deviation from that way will lead to an undesirable outcome. The research referred to above was put in the service of attachment theory.

The significant idea that emerged from this as well as other research was the importance of attachment to a caregiver in the developmental process. The caregiver in much research was the mother – in the instance of the monkeys the group raised by their mothers did best.

We are now in an age where the old model of maternal child-rearing which served as the basis for earlier research, does not apply. Many mothers are no longer the primary care-givers of their children. Yet years of research have put the emphasis on the importance of maternal care rather than on identifying what the important characteristics are of such care that can be provided in other ways.

The result is that mothers who do not provide full-time care struggle with the fear that they are not adequately meeting the needs of their children, while at the same time that same belief is a force in the failure of our society to provide alternative ways of meeting those needs. Maternal attachment does not require full-time maternal care. Nurturing of children does require human interaction that can be provided in a variety of ways.

The antique shops of tomorrow will be hard put to find samples of the many ways todays parents are trying to find ways to meet the needs of their children without the support they themselves need. An unfortunate legacy of a side of research.

 

Innocents Abroad

There is word throughout the country of young people marching to protest the failure of their elders to protect them from gun violence and to demand the passage of new gun control laws. Adults from many walks of life are joining the youngsters in the indictment of themselves and their own generation. The grown-ups seem to be looking to their children for leadership.

Some years ago an evolutionary biologist put forward a theory of pregnancy as tug of war between mother and fetus. Because a child’s development in the womb is critical to its long-term health, nature favors genes that allow fetuses to draw more resources from their mothers. In the service of extracting these resources the fetus aggressively sprouts blood vessels that invade its mother’s tissues.

At the same time, natural selection should favor mothers who could restrain these incursions in order to have several surviving offspring carrying on their genes. In the face of conflicting genetic interests of mother and child, cooperation breaks down, leading to potential complications.

This interesting theory might well be a metaphor for the story of mother-child, later parent-child relationships throughout development – out of the womb as well as in it. A conflict between the needs of the parent and the needs of the child reappear at many points in life, and often lead to a tug of war similar to the one hypothesized in pregnancy.

Parents and children start from different vantage points. The goal of the parent is to socialize and promote independent, successful functioning in a dependent infant. The goal of the infant, later the child, is to gratify needs and wishes. The efforts of parents to achieve their goals become the first serious interference from the environment with the infant’s, or child’s instinctive desire and impulses. Parents and children are in different place. There is an inherent conflict between what a parent wants and a child wants.

This conflict is apparent in all of the developmental steps a child is required to master in the process of learning to live in the world with others; giving up the bottle, using the potty, feeding and dressing oneself, controlling impulses and following the routines of life. The infant/child on the other hand, may need or wish to hold on to dependent behavior.

In accordance with evolving theories in child development, advice given to parents has dealt with ways to address the complications that may arise as a result of the conflict between the needs and wishes of parent and child. Over time, such advice has alternated between the importance of the child and the importance of the parent in resolving the conflicts between them. Swings in approaches to child-rearing have moved from treating the parent as the authority, to treating the child as the authority in resolving the inherent parent-child conflict.

Perhaps it was inevitable that a point would be reached in the larger social world where both children and parents would concur in children having to take responsibility for their own protection. This seems to be what is happening now with respect to the issue of gun control, the matter of physical safety long assumed to be the responsibility of parents and other adults in the care of the young.

Exposure to violence has disrupted what once was thought to be the age of innocence. That innocence has been attacked at the same time by the exposure of the misuse of social media, the tech world in which young people have increasingly put their trust as well as their personal lives. Both kinds of violence represent a betrayal of the young by their elders.

It may be impossible to restore innocence. What is not impossible to restore is the role of parents in guiding the young. We can support their newly discovered commitment to necessary change without now expecting that it is their responsibility alone to bring about that change.

They sound as though they believe it is.

The Kids Are All Right

Concern about the impact of technology on our minds and behavior has focused especially on young people. Acting on this concern the Center for Humane Technology has partnered with Common Sense, the leading advocacy organization of kids in the digital age, to develop educational approaches directed toward children. The question is what form of education is potentially strong enough to counter the new forms of technology that capture our minds and attention?

This question is especially relevant in thinking about young people who literally have grown up with technology, unlike their parents who have at least known life without a smart phone, iPad or computer. Children seem to have their own phones almost as soon as they can talk, games on tech devices are the new baby sitters, and computers are part of school curriculum.

The use of a scare approach showing how tech can alter the brain is reminiscent of the approaches used to stop drug use or smoking. The problem is that while saying that becoming addicted to tech is like the impact of drugs, the story is more complicated than that. The factors that lead kids to try drugs or start to smoke are not the same as the use of technology that is part of their parents and their everyday live. The benefits and pleasures of technology are already deeply entrenched in the culture.

The challenge becomes how to help young people become aware of negatives they haven’t experienced while not denying the positives aspects available to them. This is a somewhat more complicated set of ideas to convey. The “just say no” type of campaign seems unrealistic in light of the pervasive – even by now necessary use of technology in so many spheres of life.

Some have suggested that the campaign to encourage safe driving may be a more applicable model for educating about abusive use of tech. The idea here would be to promote the safe use of technology. On the other hand, the current behavior of young people in response to gun violence should give us something to think about in a broader sense. Far from fitting the more familiar picture critical of today’s youth, young people have arisen with almost one voice to assert an unacceptable reality they see as the failing of their elders. They are not simply protesting the failure to be protected by the adults in charge, they are taking the lead in spelling out the kinds of changes that are necessary.

Showing a sophisticated understanding of the role financial support has played in preventing needed controls, these young people have projected the role they believe they can play in the future in bringing about change. In media interviews on the air and in print, they speak of themselves as being the largest cohort of future American spenders who will have power over family spending.

They also point out their potential power of the ballot, which for many high school seniors will begin this November. They promise to remember those elected officials who stood with them and those who did not. They also define their mission as protecting the nation’s children without reference to political party alignment.

These students have better articulated the need for common-sense gun control laws and school safety then their elders ever have. Perhaps the message to us should be, “ask the children” about the serious issues that impact their lives, in particular the threat of technology.

Instead of focusing on a need to educate them, young people themselves if confronted directly with the problem, may help to educate us.

Tech Addiction

The Center for Humane Technology, a group of prominent industry insiders concerned about the willingness and ability of certain tech companies to control the actions and attention of billions of people, wants to liberate us from tech addiction. Its goal is to spark a mass movement for more ethical technology in order to put pressure on Silicon Valley giants that the Center’s leadership says has been entirely missing in Washington. Tristan Harris, the former Google design ethicist who has been called the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience, has said, “I see this as game over, unless we change course.”

The concern of Harris and others in the tech world, is the need for people to understand the way tech tools are tailor-made to make addicts of us all, forever altering the way billions of people think, feel and interact with one another. To this end the group has partnered with Common Sense, the leading advocacy organization of kids in the digital age in a campaign to educate consumers and put pressure on the tech industry to make its products less intrusive and less addictive.

According to Harris the most powerful tech companies in the world have created the attention economy and are now engaged in a full-blown arms race to capture and retain human attention, including the attention of kids. This has been described further as altering the chemistry of kids brains. Pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig explains how collecting coins in Minecraft rewards kids brains with a hit of dopamine which feels good and makes them want more.

Over-stimulating dopamine neurons causes them to die, and according to Lustig causes changes in the brain that manifest themselves as mental illness. Research has shown spikes in the rate of depression and suicidal thoughts among kids. Tech is designed to give users constant rewards. “It’s not a drug, but it might a well be,” according to Lustig.

While there is wide concern about the role mobile devices increasingly play in young people’s lives, experts are split over the question of whether internet addiction is a legitimate disorder. Actual evidence of addictiveness and harm is more complex than the colloquial use of addiction as a descriptor would suggest.

What comes to mind is “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” written by media guru Neil Postman in 1985. At that time, it was the emerging power of television that was of great concern, and Postman saw the medium’s entertainment value as a present-day “soma,” the fictitious pleasure drug in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

Drawing on the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, Postman makes the point that form excludes content, meaning a particular medium can only sustain a particular level of ideas. The medium of television runs counter to the kind of rational argument integral to print. Television de-emphasizes the quality of information in favor of satisfying the need for entertainment.

Postman describes how oral, literate, and television cultures radically differ in the processing and prioritization of information and argues that each medium is appropriate for a different kind of knowledge. The faculties requisite for rational inquiry are weakened by televised viewing. According to Postman television news had become a form of entertainment programming and that the change in public discourse meant that politics had ceased to be about a candidate’s ideas but about whether he/she comes across favorably on television.

The concern of the media experts of the Center for Humane Technology has taken the indictment of technology a step further than Postman’s discussion of the nature of the medium. They want us to understand that technology has been intentionally used commercially to bring about our attention and involvement in ways we do not control and are doing us harm.

The question is, what form of education is now available to us that can counter the newer forms of capturing our minds and attention?