Policy on the
Use of Electronic Media
philosophy of Sanderling Waldorf School is based upon an
understanding of the developing child. While television and other media
can serve as a source of information and entertainment for adults,
children do not operate in the same developmental stage as adults.
Recent research has shown that exposure to media entertainment for
young children may have a detrimental effect upon their self-image,
their ability to concentrate and develop attention span, their
relationship skills, values, reading skills, physical skills, energy
levels, psychological health, creativity and social behavior.
Because we believe that the impact of electronic media can have
detrimental effects on a child’s healthy growth and development,
we encourage families to incorporate our media-free philosophy into
their children’s daily lives. To that end, we expect that our
families significantly reduce or eliminate the use of media
(television, videos, video games, computer games, iPods, CD players,
feature movies, etc.) for their children. We ask for complete
elimination of electronic media during the school week, Sunday late
afternoon to Friday after school. We realize that limiting or
eliminating media from your child's life might feel like a tall order.
However with support and reassurance, families may find that more free
time means more creative and quality time together.
Concerns about the effects of television have centered almost
exclusively on the content of the programs children watch. Many might
argue that watching a nature program is educational and good for the
child. However, as Marie Winn states in her book, The Plug-In Drug, "It
is easy to overlook a deceptively simple fact: one is always watching
television when one is watching television rather than having any other
experience." Winn goes on to say that certain specific physiological
mechanisms of the eyes, ears, and brain respond to the stimuli
emanating from the screen regardless of the cognitive content of the
programs. Television viewing requires the taking in of particular
sensory material in a particular way no matter what the material might
be. The sedentary mode of watching television does not match the active
internal experience that occurs in response to what is being viewed.
For example, one would not jump out of the way of an oncoming car that
is on the screen, yet one may feel the anxiety, fear, and panic of the
situation being viewed. There is, indeed, no other experience in a
child’s life that permits quite so much intake while demanding so
little output as watching television.
In order to function in a society which relies upon mastery of the
spoken and written word, a child must acquire fundamental skills in
oral and written communication. Frequent use of electronic media can be
counterproductive to the development of brain functions needed to
master skills such as reading, writing, arithmetic, and language
development. It can also work against the natural development of
analytical thinking. Joseph Chilton Pearce, Ph.D., an internationally
renowned educator, author and lecturer, states that the child’s
first seven years are devoted to development of the symbolic,
metaphoric language structure in the mid-brain and that all future
cognitive development rests on the integrated functioning of the right
and left sides of the brain. Television viewing disrupts this
development and can cause a child to be easily distracted and bored.
Reading, writing, speaking, and reasoning are functions of the left
side of the brain. This is the part of the brain that orders data and
analyzes what it perceives. The right side of the brain perceives the
world as a whole and does not code and decode, as does the left side.
Television viewing engages the right side of the brain, and as a child
is inundated with the short sequences and the accelerated pace found in
any television program, the ability to use the symbolic
analytical-thinking brain functions may be diminished.
Real multi-sensory experiences are the seeds of imagination and
creativity. It is important that your child be able to absorb the
curriculum of the day – without electronic interference –
in order to integrate and process it during sleeping hours. This is how
learning becomes an integral part of life. Allowing your child to
attend to the tasks of growing and learning without the stimulation of
electronic media will enhance his or her ability to focus and become
immersed in each day’s curriculum.
We encourage you to speak with staff or other parents in the school for
suggestions, support and resources that you might find helpful on this
subject. We strive to find ways for families to better understand our
philosophy yet please know that the school has a policy as stated in
Paragraph 2 of this section. Failure to comply with this policy may be
grounds for dismissal, based on how on this may distract the child and
potentially the class.