Children are being robbed of one of their most precious gifts: their imagination. As the Berlin Wall gives way to the Berlin Mall, this phenomenon will become increasingly global. This theft is the result of the wedding of the culture of consumption which treats children as an especially pliable and lucrative market with the technology of television. Here's how the theft of imagination works: young children are full of wonder and curiosity. Their imaginations are easily engaged, and they have powerful natural abilities to play and create. They naturally participate in what child psychologists call magical thinking.Television with its movement, color and sound is very appealing to children. But the fast-paced, quick-cutting of stan dard TV programming is too rapid for young children. Children love to linger over an activity, image, or character. Time and space to linger is the essence of play. Play is the avenue of the imagination.
Television does not tolerate the childs need to ling er, nor does it serve the childs developing mind. It simply arrests a childs attention and conforms it to machine-ordered experiences of space and time.
The child has no control over what is being presented, nor does the child have an opportunity to interact. The rapid, non-stop movement of television forces a child to be still in order to keep up with the action. This stilling effect dramatically confi nes a childs realm of play, both physically and psychologically. TVs demand that viewers remain in constant eye contact in order not to miss anything reduces a childs ability to explore the world kinesthetically, through body movement. For children, kines thetics is one of the main avenues of play and exploration. When I tell my five-year-old son the story of my dream about a tsunami wave hitting the coast of Florida,