One of my favorite contemporary psychologists is David Elkind, author of the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Hurried Child. The message in his original book published in 1981 was, “Give childhood back to children.” As a child development specialist, his message echoes mine.
25th Anniversary Edition
Unfortunately, in his revised edition, the third edition, and now the 25th anniversary edition, the prefaces to his books sadly state that children are increasingly hurried. Interestingly, he includes all his previous prefaces in this edition.
The first edition focused on the way parents, schools, and the media hurry children. Concerns about sports and schooling that he considered developmentally inappropriate, as well as the effects of sex and violence on television were key components of his book.
Technology & Hurry
The latest edition adds information on the effects of technology on children with the pervasiveness of our hurried society and media. “In many ways, our new technologies have radically transformed childhood, and not always for the better,” (p. viii). Other significant cultural changes include the focus on infant education, such as Baby Einstein and computer programs for infants and toddlers. Out of home child care for 12.5 million children under age five with an average of 36 hours per week is yet another cultural shift, as is the child as a consumer, and the technology empowered student.
This ten chapter book is dived into two parts: Our Hurried Children and Hurried Children: Stressed Children. Part one addresses the dynamics of how parents, schools, media and technology hurry children. Two excellent chapters in part 2 include Growing Up Slowly and How Children React to Stress.
Elkind’s documented so many significant cultural changes around hurrying children, he’s amended the closure from his first book to state, “In the end, a playful childhood is the most basic right of children,” (p. xvii). This book is counter culture to our hurried society which is exactly why I like it. Let’s give childhood back to our children. They deserve nothing less.
The Hurried Child: Growing up too fast too soon by David Elkind, Ph.D., Da Capo Press, 2007, 25th anniversary edition. Available at amazon.com; paperback deluxe edition $12.42; Kindle $10.33.