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The Imaginationless Generation

Lessons from Ancient Culture on Regulating New Media

Nachshon Goltz and Tracey Dowdeswell

In the present-day Tower of Babylon—the all-encompassing virtual world built of image layered upon image—children are the most vulnerable users. If we permit them unfettered access to media that promotes corporate and consumer values, while suppressing their cognitive development and creative imagination, then an ‘imaginationless generation’ may be our grim and inevitable future.

This book takes the reader, whether an academic, a parent or an educator, through a startling journey from the harms lurking in the virtual worlds—to children’s health and well-being, to how they deal with representations of violence and sexuality, as well as exposure to cyberbullying, advertising, Internet Addiction Disorder, and even exploitation. The most dangerous harm is unseen, and affects the innermost realm of a child’s psyche: the imagination. The authors discuss the current global regulatory framework that makes the protection of children ever more challenging. They discuss lessons learned from the ways that courts have negotiated free speech issues, as well as the research on parental mediation of children’s Internet use in the home. Finally, they move towards a bold new attempt at understanding regulation, by drawing lessons for new media from ancient culture.

In The Imagionationless Generation, the authors pioneer an attempt to address the real harms that children face in virtual realities by presenting a new and paradigm shifting theory—the Media Engagement. They follow the theory’s insights and predictions to offer a new perspective on a burning question of our time—how to protect children online. This multidisciplinary intellectual voyage and its insights are only possible by standing on the shoulders of scholars who have gone before, such as Ellul, Baudrillard, McLuhan, Postman and Piaget, to name a few.

As academics, parents and concerned human beings, the authors present here the results of more than twenty years of research in a way that should appeal to a wide variety of readers, as they stretch our understanding of the human-machine interface beyond right and wrong. This book shapes our understanding of media in the digital age in much the same way that McLuhan’s Understanding Media did for a previous generation.

Nachshon Goltz and Tracey Dowdeswell

Nachshon Goltz and Tracey Dowdeswell

Nachshon Goltz and Tracey Dowdeswell

Nachshon Goltz and Tracey Dowdeswell

Nachshon Goltz and Tracey Dowdeswell

Nachshon Goltz and Tracey Dowdeswell

Nachshon Goltz and Tracey Dowdeswell

Series:

Edited by Sue Vella, Ruth Falzon and Andrew Azzopardi

The study of wellbeing is not new. Over two millennia ago, the Ancient Greeks were already debating different conceptions of the good life, and how it may be fostered, albeit a debate for the privileged in ancient Greek society. More recently, the post-WWII concern with economic scarcity gave way – as prosperity rose in the later 20th century – to values such as personal growth and social inclusion. In parallel, research has increasingly turned its focus to wellbeing, going beyond traditional measures of income, wealth and employment. Greater attention is now paid to the subjective experience of wellbeing which, it is broadly agreed, has many dimensions such as life satisfaction, optimal functioning and a good quality of life.

Perspectives on Wellbeing: A Reader brings together a number of chapters that examine wellbeing from different disciplinary perspectives. A number of the chapters take the angle of human flourishing, looking at the respective contributions of belonging, emotional resilience, spirituality, prosocial behaviour, literacy and leisure. Others look at wellbeing through a social relations lens, including family relations, youth, persons with disability and gender. Finally, a chapter on wellbeing and economics illustrates different approaches to measuring wellbeing and identifying its determinants. The book concludes with a chapter that argues for the enduring importance of the welfare state if the wellbeing of all is to be ensured.

This book is likely to be of interest to both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the social sciences as well as to a general readership.

Contributors are: Angela Abela, Andrew Azzopardi, Paul Bartolo, Marie Briguglio, Amy Camilleri Zahra, Joanne Cassar, Marilyn Clark, Ruth Falzon, Vickie Gauci, Ingrid Grech Lanfranco, Natalie Kenely, Mary Anne Lauri, Marceline Naudi, Claudia Psaila, Clarissa Sammut Scerri, Sandra Scicluna Calleja, Barbara Stelmaszek, Sue Vella, and Val Williams.