Media Policy

“Pressure to grow up faster or exposing children to content or influences beyond their developmental ken does not make them smarter or savvier sooner. Instead, it fast-forwards them past critical steps in the developmental process.”

—Catherine Steiner-Adair, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age

The Goal of Waldorf Education

The goal of Waldorf education is to develop capacities in children that will help them meet whatever the future brings—needs we cannot even guess at present. Central to this task is the ability to think with clarity, focus, creativity and flexibility. Electronic media and technology work against the development of these capacities. That is why the faculty of the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School seeks to protect children from the detrimental effects of electronic media and technology, including TV, videos, movies, electronic and video games, computers, web sites, social media, texting, instant messaging, cell phones and other handheld devices, recorded music and radio.

Effects of Media and Technology on Children

Researchers of brain and human development continue to offer new insights that support our school’s limitation of media use in children’s lives.

Electronic media and technology use is linked with:

The accumulation of repressed energy can lead to aggression and impulsive outbreaks. Children accept media characters as models for their own attitudes and actions, and begin to judge their own meaning, dignity and worth—and that of others—accordingly. The addictive and passive qualities of media and technology disrupt the child’s direct interaction with the world and interfere with their healthy development. In addition, rapid changes in technology have created new safety hazards for children, and the seemingly anonymous nature of social networking can lead to insidious new forms of social exclusion and harassment.

In the classroom, teachers see the compromising effects of children’s media and technology use in:

Berkshire Waldorf School Media and Technology Guidelines

Teachers recognize that electronic media and technology can serve as valuable tools when used properly and age-appropriately. Certainly as adults we appreciate their assistance. In Waldorf education, students begin to work with these tools at the high school level. Here are the school’s recommendations for younger children:

For Students from Early Childhood through Grade 4

For Students Grades 5 and Up

Cell Phones and Handheld Devices

Social Networking

Media-Free Childhood

If parents are struggling to follow GBRSS media guidelines, or would like support on how to begin, please contact your class teacher. Many of our community members, parents and teachers alike, have met similar challenges in their family lives and can offer helpful, realistic suggestions. New after-school activities and offerings are being developed for this school year to help children stay active and engaged after the school day. In addition, the GBRSS Parent Association and GBRSS Media Working Group will keep you updated about parent education and support in finding fun family alternatives to children’s media and technology use.

Consequences of Media and Technology Misuse

If students misuse electronic media and technology, the following consequences will take place, for the well-being of all of the students in our school:

For More Information

An overview of safety issues connected with children’s media use is outlined at http://www.netsmartz.org/Parents. For further reading and more information about the effects of media use and Waldorf education, click here.