At all times, on the eve of New Year and Christmas holidays children have waited for miracles. But is there any room left for miracles today? For people living in the XXI century the old good tales become a reality. Instead of magic tablecloth, people have fridges and microwave ovens, instead of seven-league boots - cars, instead of magic talking mirrors - web cameras. Does a modern kid still wait for a miracle? How do small Ukrainians feel among modern gadgets? How do always busy adults influence the life of children? Psychologist of the Research and Education Center for innovations and monitoring Ivan Sulimenko tried to answer these questions in an interview with ForUm.

- Ivan, what are favorite fairytales of modern children?

-  Well, I can tell that the best fairytale for a modern kid is a tale pictured in a cartoon or a movie and approved by Hollywood.

- Do children still believe in fairytale characters like Farther Frost, Baba Yaga, etc.?

- Yes, children believe in fairytales, but rather critically. Children grow up very fast today. Moreover, modern society does not lull a child with an old good fairytale, but overload with news about ratification of political agreements, place crashes and the latest scientific discoveries. Thus, children imitate the principles of the real world, and Baba Yaga is the past and hence has already lost its charm. Her place has been taken by Superman and X-men. The fairytale has entered the epoch of modernism and postmodernism, but it is a natural process. The negative moment here is that folk art has been suppressed by popular culture, stereotypic and sometimes vulgar.

- How has the taste of children changed within the time? What cartoons do they prefer now?

- It is difficult to say how the taste has changed for the last 30 years, for example, but it is obvious that the cinema market has changed considerably. Modern cartoons appeal to the popular culture, comics and stereotypes.

As for the plots, fantasy, adventure, Christmas stories, fairytale animal world have always been efficient, as they stimulate children's imagination foremost. They picture mythology and folklore and make believe in superpowers of characters. No doubt, modern animation has become easier for perception and more intense emotionally.

- How do you estimate the influence of modern cartoons on children's mind? Are all cartoons safe for mentality?

- Children are very easy to convince and they do try to imitate their favorite characters. Thus, cartoons have always been an important means of socialization. I want to cite the statistics our Center obtained in its research. In response to the question "What features of your favorite TV, cartoon or movie characters would you like to model upon?", the majority of respondents (13-15 year old kids) said they would like to be able to solve problems as their idols do (54%), to have the same mode of dress (47%), to follow similar outlook on life (45%), to imitate behavior and attitude to people (40%). Such data proves that cinema products have big influence on children and on formation of life stereotypes.

- I heard that some researchers believe that modern cartoons are dangerous for children's mind, and that certain production can even block the desire to make a family in the future...

- Well, I doubt that certain plots can form such a mindset. The most obvious reason for not taking responsibility and creating a family is infantilism, emotional and intellectual immaturity. In this case, cartoons serve as a 'bridge', which connects adults with their childhood.

There are whole subcultures, which justify and legalize such behavior among adults. There are so called kidults, mostly men over 30, who are interested in forms of entertainment such as computer games, television programmes, etc. that are intended for children.

Returning to the topic of cartoons, I want to tell that many cartoons are not really cartoons nowadays, as they speak about adult topics. Take for example, "Superjail". The very title says a lot.

When the progress does no good

- Parents can buy today a variety of games and toys. How does it influence the development of creativity?

- We cannot state categorically, however such variety has negative impact. First of all, children no longer need to activate their imagination, as modern entertainment industry offers everything one can imagine. But in fact, children culture offers only stereotyped shape and bright colors to attract children's attention for the sake of commercial success. It may result in that children will fantasize within a single place of worlds, imposed by the modern industry of games and toys. Such entertainment has nothing to do with personal development, as it does not stimulate fantasy and creativity.

It does not mean we must prohibit toys, but we should pay more attention to activities, which develop and activate mind. I mean traditional reading, drawing, music and live communication with peers and parents.

The bad thing is that books are no longer popular among small kids of primary school age. The interest in books reappears among teens, but the level of this interest still leaves much to be desired. In particular, according to the research results, only fourth part of respondents considers books as a source of information.

- What is the average age when children start using modern technologies?

- I would say the age of 6-7 years is the Hi-Tech initiation period. When children start going to school, apart from manuals and exercise books, they get mobile phones to be in contact with their parents and start using computers to learn the basics. Even the most conservative parents understand that computer is an obligatory part of modern life.

Adults, be alert

- How does the press of modern life of adults (no time for communication, games, reading books together) influence the personality formation of children?

- Children always seek emotional contacts with the surrounding world. Children depend on their parents emotionally and financially. However, if parents do not take part in the emotional development of their children and do not pay enough attention to them, the dependence becomes only financial, limited to the routine. As a result, children start considering their parents as a controlling organ, not as tutors and friends. Do not forget that if you do not participate in the education of your children, someone or something will do it for you sooner or later.

- According to the statistics, the divorce rate in Ukraine grows. How does this factor influence the mind of modern schoolchildren?

- In this case, we can speak about a global trend, as such social processes as devolution of family institute is typical for all postindustrial and emerging countries. In developed traditional countries, like Japan for example, women simply avoid marriages, as in case of having a baby, young mothers must fully devote themselves to the child and forget about career.

Every day the modern culture reminds us that we live only once and that we must catch as much as we can. Institutes, which used to be in charge of moral formation, like church for example, have nothing to offer effective against the process of demoralization of a part of the society. Thus, the problem of social country concerns not only Ukraine.

As for modern schoolchildren, they merely copy the behavior of their parents and may become even more radical if nothing changes in the future. However, let's hope for the best.

Alina Yeremeyeva, photos by Maxim Trebukhov


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