From social perspective, children are expected to acquire knowledge, skills and character traits that will enable then to participate as effective members of the society. Therefore, socialization is an important process in the society. The relationships of children in their development are affected by attitudes, emotions, values and interests. This paper explains the hurried child syndrome as an agent of socialization and compares traditional child upbringing with the current child upbringing. Further, the paper investigates whether technology changes the social relations and the ways in which children experience their everyday life.
Hurried child syndrome
Socialization agents are those who pass on social expectations. Everyone is a socializing agent because social expectations are communicated in many ways and in every interaction people have, intentional or not. When people are simply doing what they consider normal, they are communicating social expectations to others. People feel pressure to become what the society expects of them even if the pressure may be subtle and unrecognized. When a child is forced to grow up very fast, his or her emotions develop ahead of his or her. This phenomenon is referred to as the hurried child syndrome. The victims of hurried child syndrome are raised under much pressure to achieve, succeed or become what the society expects of them. Just as adults, the children are made to feel that they must be survivors whereby surviving means adjusting even if the ages of the survivors are below eight years. The hurried children are forced to take on the psychological, physical and social trappings of adulthood before they are ready to deal with them. Socially, the hurried child syndrome passes a message that the involved families are under constant pressure which makes them to pressure children into roles that they do not want or not prepared to handle. With the development of the children unnaturally accelerated, they become developmentally unbalanced (Ackerman, 1994).
Traditional child upbringing
On the level of ideological arguments one still finds strong, traditional conceptions of child –rearing. It is firmly maintained that the child belonged to his or her mother, who seemed to provide the best care and education for the infant and pre-school age child. Rearing children was seen as one of the major tasks, which means that she must stay at home. The mother’s responsibility was a major principle, though legally the dominant power was still ascribed to the father. Child- upbringing was perceived as a natural process “natural” in several ways. According to this concept, physical health was a pre-requisite to development, and there was consequent strong emphasis on the medical care of the child. Self-regulatory growth and maturation in the biological sense was expected, and any help from outside, at least “artificial” was considered unnecessary or even harmful. Such assistance could come from the “natural environment” that was the family, especially the mother. Parents even seemed reluctant to accept advice from neighbors as well as other peers. The mother was instinctively expected to do the right thing for her child, at least under normal circumstances.
Though adequate child care requires some institutionalized support, it was left to private imitative to seek and accept such support from primarily private sources. This idea has two bases. Firstly, children were considered to be personal “property” of the family. Secondly, public assistance was supposed to observe the principle of subsidiary, recognizing the family as the basic unit responsible for the child. Hence, any institutionalized aid was to be on an individual basis. Efforts to establish institutions majorly aimed at re-creating the “natural conditions.” These popular concepts should not be taken as facts or as an expression of ultimate values. They, however, pointed to guiding principles in everyday life. There are some more conservative views, as there are more progressive movements, but these principles are still present in any public definition of the situation in early child care. The image of the family as the basic social unit is at the centre of this definition. It is characterized by a clearly defined division of labor between family members, based on the middle –class of enlightened industrialism. Therefore, the task of rearing and educating the child was incumbent on the family, especially the mother (Valsiner & Connolly, 2003).
In all general sociological terms, one could argue that the strict definition of the roles and labor in child-upbringing also led to strict temporal ordering of the upbringing process. The idea of development stages was very compatible with such a traditional view; the latter takes as its point of departure the immediate, so to speak naive, experience of a very naturalistic reality. Hence it was accepted that the first period at home was followed by a second period of formal schooling. The school was expected to provide the child with his or her first formal outside contacts. Before school this was the responsibility of the family. In this ideal model, there was little need for formal institutions outside the family to aid in the process of child care (Sears, Maccoby & Levin, 1976).
Current child upbringing trends
The family and its function are being questioned nowadays and help from outside is playing a very significant role. In such a case, we are realizing a concomitant change in concepts related to the stages of child upbringing and development – a division of the period of early childhood into sub periods characterized by changing relationships between child, parents, and society. It is obvious that the traditional concepts mentioned above are not really practiced in view of the requirements of modern industrial society. Various compromises are facilitated by a relatively high living standards favored by external and internal factors. Nowadays, the scene is changing rapidly. On the ideological levels, we are able to witness a growing concern over the validity of traditional ideas and images. Already, some basic reforms in legislation have taken place. Early child care as well as education in general has become subjects to public debate which is being demonstrated by the numerous magazines, articles in journals, and the considerable number of books devoted to this subjects. Many belong to what can be called the international market of ideas in the field. In addition, an identical coverage is provided by television (Borman, 1982).
On the practical level, some changes have been initiated. Among these changes, the most notable are the new training programs for professionals in early child care and upbringing and a few organizations concerned with this field attempts to coordinate the efforts of the existing agencies and finally programs to initiate research hitherto virtually absent. This awakening interest and concern for early child care is taken into account as an emerging force. The present situation is considered ripe for new proposals and policies in the field of child care.
Impacts of technology
Due to the development of technology, the social relations and ways in which children experience everyday life has undergone various radical changes. In the context of globalization and industrialization, the classical institutions that were key to development of various social identities and relations have faded. Children’s sense of belonging to certain communities and cultures through social affiliations has diminished. The dismantling of traditions has led to a radical change in the social positions of the children. Their daily experiences no longer correspond to custom and convention. In the modern society, children are expected to conform to the fixed patterns of social relations or conventionally prescribed ways of life. Social relations have become mediated and dissociated from children’s contexts, remaining reciprocal but no longer sharing the common locales. The increased security of modern life due to technology has enhanced the decreased in personalized trust, while the hidden effects of some areas of new technology go with increased ability to analyze data and produce statistical reports on all types of risks in other fields. Children are more aware of any perils that threaten their daily life (Nijnatten, 2010).
There are a number of interrelated shifts in the daily life experiences in many children that are relevant for understanding children’s relationship to technology. One change is related to arguments about children’s absence from public places. It has been argued that many children’s social activities that took place in public places in the past are increasingly taking place at their homes. Therefore, the homes are themselves becoming more public or more open to outsiders and the children experience this through having their friends around to interact with in their homes. In addition the relations between children and their relations have changed. For example, children have become resistant to various parental controls. Using television as an example, the children have gained social status from watching adult materials despite the parental efforts to influence what they watched. This has made children to have different perspectives from their parents. They consider parental monitoring as an invasion of their privacy or personal space which could lead to their frustrations (Haddon, 2004).
From a sociological perspective, hurried child syndrome implies that the involved families are under constant pressure which makes them to force their children to assume some roles that they are not able and prepared to do. This affects the development of these children in a negative manner. As evident from above, traditional child upbringing was based on natural aspects while the current upbringing incorporates various artificial interventions. Finally, it has been found out that technology brings various changes to children’s social relations as well as to the ways in which they experience their daily life.