When we talk to parents about what they want for their children, the main things on their minds are generally either self-confidence or the ability to be causative to plan (or cause) their lives.
Both of these parental desires come down to wanting competence for the child (the ability to cause things). This aligns well with how we view our endeavor, namely helping children raise their levels of causation in their lives through education. Generally, we expect education to have somewhat of a civilizing effect, putting the student more and more in control of his life, more and more at cause over his ability to effect his environment, and to work as needed with others in exercising this causativeness.
It has become clearer to us the degree to which TV, as a whole phenomenon, and including video games, is working against us in the above- described endeavor. We see many cases of students having remarkable losses of their educational gains as they sit in front of the TV when they are out of class. Taken off of TV, we have observed dramatic resurgences, and in some cases, dramatic reduction of anti-social activity during school time.
One of the key factors of causativeness has to do with what can be called “outflow” (efforts directed outward from one’s self, one’s own created communications, projects, activities and products). However, this is exactly the zone that heavy or chronic TV watching hits at.
Imagine an “entertainment screen” popping up in front of a child’s face whenever he or she runs out of things to do. Those moments of beginning boredom, which a child would otherwise have to create his way out of, are then lost. Maybe the TV screen doesn’t really come on quite automatically, but “Let’s see what’s on, click” can get pretty automatic and can prevent a lot of worthwhile activity from ever getting off the ground.
You may be surprised the degree to which children can develop mild cases of hypnotic addiction (not always mild). There are many arguments to have about good aspects of TV, but this much now seems clear to us: any chronic or substantial amount of TV watching or playing video games is almost certain to reduce the outflow/ creativity of our students, and it can often create its own hypnotic effects. The addictive nature of it varies tremendously, but in more cases than one would hope, withdrawal is a bit violent. We want students who can, and normally do, fill in their own vacuums; who outflow more than they inflow (taking things in), who are in balance, creating their lives.
I urge you to take this subject seriously. Help our children overcome any tendency to fall into chronic inflow. TV is clearly inflow. Video games may seem like outflow, but our experience says that it is illusion; it is severely introverting. Help create patterns in life where “creating” is more highly valued than “being entertained.” After all, the word “entertain” comes from “holding (attention) in between.” We don’t really want our children’s attention to be “held in between.” We would rather it be out, involved in some creative activity.
Founding Headmaster Delphi Schools Network