We have often been asked why Waldorf schools discourage television for their students. Most responsible parents today screen the content of the TV programmes their children (especially younger ones) watch. Modern satellite decoders allow for “Parental Control”, which limits or completely blocks certain channels or programmes parents feel are inappropriate for their children to watch.
Although this is a great start, there are literally hundreds of comprehensive studies, conducted by renowned experts worldwide, which indicate that watching any television at all can have numerous, far-reaching and long-lasting negative effects on children, particularly during their early years.
Although television hadn’t been invented when the first Waldorf school was founded, one of the core philosophies of the Waldorf way has always been the need to nurture and grow our children’s imaginations. A healthy imagination – and not one “borrowed” from Disney and other popular children’s TV channels – is central to the overall health and holistic development of the individual.
The Real Effects of Television
The brain of a small child is not well-enough developed to filter out unpleasant or toxic sense experiences. They absorb everything like a sponge, and are vulnerable to becoming over-stimulated. Research shows it can take several days for the effects of watching a single video to wear off. If children watch TV every day, these effects may never wear off. How often do we see children adding sound effects to their actions (such as saying “Pow!” when they kick a ball, for example) or compulsively repeating lines or singing jingles from shows they watch a lot. Far from being “normal” and natural childish behaviour, this is actually learned from watching TV, and doesn’t come from the children themselves.
Children need experiences that stimulate all their senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste – but television is two-dimensional, only involving sight and hearing. Yet even this is problematic, as the sound quality is often poor, and there is frequent use of flashing, coloured or bright lights, all of which can adversely affect the proper development and function of our children’s precious eyes and ears.
There are literally thousands of studies and research articles available to read on the negative effects television can have on younger children, but if you’d like to find out more about Waldorf’s approach to this issue, please call us. We’d love to chat to you.
References relating to why Waldorf Schools discourage television: