Roseway Waldorf school recently hosted well-known child psychologist Tim Barry for a discussion about the effects of technology on children, education, families, and communities. Earlier this month we looked at an overview of technology and its effects on our children. This week we’re looking at the hallmarks of a healthy child, free from tech addiction.

Children who are free from an addiction to technology are robust. They are more prepared for the challenges that life throws at us – even in this highly wired information age.

They have some sort of emotional plasticity. They are able to stretch themselves – and return to their original emotional shape. The children tend to be stronger and more well-rounded.

And they’re easy to spot. You’ll recognise them because:

  1. They have bare feet.
  2. They have cuts and bruises.
  3. They have an inherent awareness of their bodies and how they work.
    • They know how high they can jump.
    • They know how far and how fast they can run/throw etc.
  4. They have some form of spirituality – a sense of wonder and amazement.
    • They are aware of their smallness in a giant universe.
  5. They have genuine gratitude: they know that mom and dad have given up a lot for them, and they are thankful for it.
  6. They have peer smarts: the strength to say no when necessary, yet easily mix with others.
  7. They are team players: they work well with others, and they celebrate the success of those around them.

Technology does not facilitate these kinds of growth.

In his book Affluenza, Oliver James explains that parents don’t exist to entertain their kids. Richard Louv expands on this precept Last Child in the Woods. This beautiful book reminds parents that modern children suffer from what he refers to as “Nature Deficit Disorder”. He shows how being bored is good for kids: it makes them creative.

These authors and speakers are not lone voices in the wilderness. In fact, there’s growing consensus that children need more time outside, playing. And a lot less time glued to the screens of the latest popular device. Martin Amis says kids of today live karaoke lives: they don’t live lives of their own. Instead, they live vicariously through the technology they consume.

Real life – real stories – start from places of safety (which we provide), and involve danger. That danger might range from piano-recital-induced performance anxiety to skinned knees and even broken bones. But whatever form it takes, it grows the child. Strength of character; discipline; life experience … and the bonds of friendship that carry us through life – all of these are the natural result of a life fully lived.

Roseway Waldorf school advocates keeping young minds free from the effects of technology for as long as possible, to allow their natural growth processes to flourish. To find out more about our research on the subject, call us on 031 768 1424 and we’ll put you in touch with the right person to answer your questions.

Tim Barry practices in Hilton, Pietermaritzburg. He can be contacted on 082 577 7128, or via email at