Modern life leads to more depression among kids

Some weeks ago, I was attending at the MIT a presentation of Toshio Iwai work; a very smart and clever guy, but my fried made a comment on him after the presentation “that he quite not got it” and Toshio's reminder to the audience that he is actually a media artist made me suspicious to. Toshio Iwai showed all his hi-tek, interaction projects between music and visuals, including short extracts of Elektroplancton a very cute Nintendo DS game and his instrument TENORI-ON in coop with Yamaha.

On the end of the presentation he broke with the multi media enthusiasm and showed to the audience, pictures from his private live and said: "that he would not give to his daughter a computer, because she will not understand", instead he is working/ playing in his spear time with here, creating nice figures out of cardboard. Ahm.

We all may know by now, MIT is pushing the project one laptop per child, I attended a disappointingly political correct – super confident power point presentation at Ars Electronica 06 symposium from Walter Bender about the One Laptop Per Child, a non-profit initiative "that is developing a technology designed to revolutionize how the world’s children are educated". The comment after a long pause from Sam Hecht; he said basically that kids want adult tools and not a Mickey Mouse like looking computer. The soft and hardware concept is MIT like well thought trough, mashing and open source, but hey, some old IT folks are building funny computers for kids, something is bizarre. Well let’s see the practise of it, but related to the following open letter, I think also, we do not need more kids, steering in their laptop screens replacing the hypnotised sitting in front of the TV. Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of One Laptop per Child is the brother of U.S. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.

Here the pro-test letter to a UK government executive:

Modern life leads to more depression among children

Sir - As professionals and academics from a range of backgrounds, we are deeply concerned at the escalating incidence of childhood depression and children’s behavioural and developmental conditions. We believe this is largely due to a lack of understanding, on the part of both politicians and the general public, of the realities and subtleties of child development.

Since children’s brains are still developing, they cannot adjust – as full-grown adults can – to the effects of ever more rapid technological and cultural change. They still need what developing human beings have always needed, including real food (as opposed to processed “junk”), real play (as opposed to sedentary, screen-based entertainment), first-hand experience of the world they live in and regular interaction with the real-life significant adults in their lives.

They also need time. In a fast-moving hyper-competitive culture, today’s children are expected to cope with an ever-earlier start to formal schoolwork and an overly academic test-driven primary curriculum. They are pushed by market forces to act and dress like mini-adults and exposed via the electronic media to material which would have been considered unsuitable for children even in the very recent past.

Our society rightly takes great pains to protect children from physical harm, but seems to have lost sight of their emotional and social needs. However, it’s now clear that the mental health of an unacceptable number of children is being unnecessarily compromised, and that this is almost certainly a key factor in the rise of substance abuse, violence and self-harm amongst our young people.

This is a complex socio-cultural problem to which there is no simple solution, but a sensible first step would be to encourage parents and policy-makers to start talking about ways of improving children’s well-being. We therefore propose as a matter of urgency that public debate be initiated on child-rearing in the 21st century this issue should be central to public policy-making in coming decades.

Professor Peter Abbs, University of Sussex,

Liz Attenborough, Manager, Talk to Your Baby Campaign

Robin Balbernie, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist,

Jean Barlow, Teacher Consultant, Rochdale Children’s Trust,

Sally Barnes Writer and consultant on early years education

Geoff Barton Headteacher King Edward VI School, Suffolk

Camilla Batmanghelidjh Founder, Kids Club

Virginia Beardshaw CEO, I CAN

Dr Robert Beckford University of Birmingham, Documentary maker ,Professor of African Diasaporin Studies

Professor Ron Best Roehampton University

John C. Beyer Director of Mediawatch UK

Sir Richard Bowlby President, Centre for Child Mental Health

David Brazier Author, abbot

Professor Tim Brighouse Commissioner for London Schools

Mick Brookes General Secretary, National Association of Head Teachers

Professor Greg Brooks University of Sheffield

Dr Christopher Houghton Budd Economic historian

Christabel Burniston President, The English Speaking Board

Jean Clark Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

Paul Cooper Editor, Soccer Coaching International

Pie Corbett Author and literacy consultant

Arthur Cornell Chairman, Family Education Trust

Jill Curtis www.familyonwards.co.uk

Professor Tricia David Canterbury Christchurch University Colleg

Marion Dowling President, British Association of Early Childhood Education

Dr John Dunford General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders

Margaret Edgington Early Years specialist consultant and author

Peter Elfer Early Childhood Studies, Roehampton University

Michele Elliot Director, Kidscape

Professor Colin Feltham Sheffield Hallam University

Anne Fine Author and former Children’s Laureate

Helen Freeman Director of Publications, Scholastic Magazines

Dr Marilyn Fryer C.Psychol. The Creativity Centre Ltd.

Di Gammage Play Therapist, University of Plymouth

Jan Georgeson University of Gloucestershire

Melanie Gill Child forensic psychologist, Commonsense Associates

Christopher Gilmore Atma-Dovetales Educational

Sally Goddard Blythe Director, Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology

Diana Goodey Educational author

Prue Goodwin Literacy specialist, University of Reading

Rob Grant Lecturer in Development Economics, University of East Anglia

Baroness Susan Greenfield Director of the Royal Institution

Dr Natasha Grist University of East Anglia

Andrea Halewood Chartered Counselling Psychologist, Roehampton University

Grethe Hooper Hansen Former head of S.E.A.L., educational consultant

Robert Hart Analytical Psychologist

Colin and Jacqui Hawkins Children’s authors

Sylvie Hétu International trainer, International Association of Infant Massage

Brenda Hobbins Founder, Osiris Educational

Patrick Holford Chief Executive of the Food for the Brain Foundation

Dr Richard House Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, Roehampton University

Dr Frances Hutchinson Economist

Virginia Ironside Journalist and author

Julie Jennings Chair of the Early Childhood Forum

Sue Johnston-Wilder Senior Lecturer in Mathematics Education, Open University

Dr Paul Kelly Senior Clinical Psychologist

Martin Large Author of Set Free Childhood

Dr Penelope Leach Author, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Institute for the Study of Children, Families & Social Issues, Birkbeck College, London

Dr John Lees University of Greenwich

Professor Del Loewenthal Roehampton University

Dr Christine Macintyre Hon Fellow, University of Edinburgh

Neil McLelland Chief Executive, National Literacy Trust

Dr Peter Martin Principal Lecturer in Counselling Psychology, Roehampton University

Mildred Masheder Writer on childhood, author of Positive Parenting

Dr Brien Masters Director, London Waldorf Teacher Training Seminar

Dr Roland Meighan Educational publisher and author of Comparing Learning Systems

Montessori Education UK

Michael Morpurgo Author and former Children’s Laureate

Professor Janet Moyles Emeritus professor at Anglia Ruskin University

Craig Newnes Editor of Making and Breaking Children’s Lives

Vincent Nolan Synectics Education Initiative

Chris Oakley Psychoanalyst, The Site for Contemporary Psychoanalysis

Haya Oakley Hon Sec of The College of Psychoanalysts

Lynne Oldfield Director, London Waldorf Early Childhood Training Course

Jayne Osgood Senior Research Fellow, London Metropolitan University

Sue Palmer Literacy consultant and author of Toxic Childhood

Dr Lindsey Peer CBE

Prof Michael A. Peters University of Illinois

Gervase Phinn Former school inspector and author

Professor David Pilgrim Clinical psychologist and academic author

Sir Jonathon Porritt Environmental campaigner

Denis Postle Psychotherapist and author of The Mind Gymnasium

Linda Pound Early Years Consultant

Philip Pullman Author

Tom Raines Editor, New View magazine

Dr Graham Rawlinson Educational psychologist, University of Sussex

Professor Colin Richards HMI (ret.)

Dr Alex Richardson Mansfield College, Oxford; author of They Are What We Feed Them

Denise Roberts Editor, My Child magazine

Veronika Robinson Editor of The Mother magazine

Dr Dorothy Rowe Psychologist and writer

Professor Andrew Samuels University of Essex

Sally Schweizer Early Childhood Advisor, teacher trainer, author of Well, I Wonder

Wendy Scott Former early years adviser to the DfES

Dorothy Selleck Early Years consultant

Dr Aric Sigman Writer, broadcaster and author of Remotely Controlled

Pippa Smith and Miranda Suit Co-founders of Media March UK

Professor Margaret Snowling University of York Professor

Ernesto Spinelli Psychotherapist and counselling psychologist, Regent’s College, London

Dr Pat Spungin www.raisingkids.co.uk

Dr Stephen Sterling Academic and author of Sustainable Education

Professor Brian Thorne University of East Anglia and the College of Teachers

Dr Sami Timimi Consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, Lincolnshire

Nick Totton Editor, Psychotherapy and Politics journal

Dr Rona Tutt Consultant, Speaker and Writer

Norman Wells Director, Family Education Trust

Dr David Whitebread University of Cambridge

Hilary Wilce Columnist and author of Help Your Child Succeed At School

Bryony Williams Nursery manager

Jacqueline Wilson Author and Children’s Laureate

Sarah Woodhouse Right From the Start education and support project for parents

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