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The Disappearance of Childhood

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  973 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
From the vogue for nubile models to the explosion in the juvenile crime rate, this modern classic of social history and media traces the precipitous decline of childhood in America today−and the corresponding threat to the notion of adulthood.

Deftly marshaling a vast array of historical and demographic research, Neil Postman, author of Technopoly, suggests that childhood i
ebook, 192 pages
Published June 8th 2011 by Vintage (first published April 1st 1984)
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Nov 03, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, and not terribly encouraging. I wish there were a 21st-century update. Writing in the early 80's (updated in 1993), Postman observes that children are being treated like little adults, and adults are beginning to act like children. Pubescent girls are held up as sex symbols in advertising; children's games (hide and seek, hopscotch) are disappearing and being replaced by professionally organized sports leagues; grownups wear jeans and sneakers to the office and pepper their speech w ...more
May 18, 2017 Corey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
"The shock of twentieth century technology numbed our brains, and we are just beginning to notice the spiritual and social debris our technology has strewn about us."

Postman is an honest liberal, which places him in the curious position of diagnosing ills for which his own worldview has been largely responsible. At one point in the book, he himself acknowledges this irony. He doesn't like the fruit of secular humanism; one wishes he would just repudiate the tree itself, roots and all.

Jun 06, 2008 booklady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any parent
I like Postman. I think I've read most of his books. I’ve learned that I frequently agree with what he writes. He is a critic and has won the National Council of Teachers of English George Orwell Award for Clarity in Language (1986). Okay, I know, awards don't always signify, but in this case, I have no doubt he earned it. He writes with a clarity and conciseness I struggle not to envy.

The theme of The Disappearance of Childhood is that our culture is hostile to childhood. I think Postman make
Mar 19, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A blog I frequently read on the intersection of faith and technology has made mention several times of Neil Postman, and I finally decided to check out one of his books. The thread running through most of his commentary is that technology is a Faustian bargain: it adds something to our lives, but always comes at a price. Sometimes that bargain is apparent from the outset, but most frequently the trade-off only becomes known years or generations later, and usually in ways the inventors never expe ...more
علی‌رضا میم
میگه کودک و بالغ قبلنا یه مرز مشخصی بینشون بوده، تا اون بچه یه سری چیزا رو کسب نمیکرده، به جمع بزرگترها راه پیدا نمیکرده، مثل سواد و ادب و یه سری چیزای دیگه.
اما تلویزیون اومده طبقه بندی مطالب رو عوض کرده. هرنوع مطلبی رو در هر موردی به زبان شفاهی درآورده و همه مخاطب اون هستند. همه چیز رو به شوخی و خوش گذشتن برگزار میکنه چون اگه برنامه اینطور نباشه کسی برنامه رو نگاه نمیکنه، و یه سری چیزهای دیگه.

کتاب قدیمی و در مورد جامعه ی امریکاست، یه جورایی الان ما میشه.
در باب شناخت بهتر از دوران ما و اینکه بیگ
Feb 23, 2014 J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book 4 stars because even though I disagree with how Mr. Postman came to many of his viewpoints, I agree with many of his conclusions. His position on how the media of today has destroyed the family and childhood was fascinating.
Jun 18, 2012 Vivian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Whether the reader agrees with the author or not, this is a compelling examination of the history of what western civilization thinks of as "childhood", its present and future trajectory and why we should care. My five stars indicates that I feel this should be a MUST READ for all.

The copy I read was from the library. Now I must get my own copy and mark it throughout.

As a personal post script, upon reflection I think the main difference in the way my husband and I were raised is that he had a te
Lumumba Shakur
Postman's basic premise is that television has so radically altered Western society that it is eroding childhood as a social construction as it had been conceived since Enlightenment. His premise is heavily Eurocentric, but nonetheless has a great deal of merit. However, I believe that in 2013, history has demonstrated that huge parallel proposition of his theory has perhaps become even more manifest with very few people seeing it as concerning. Adulthood has been so thoroughly infantalized thro ...more
Aug 27, 2012 Al rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I rediscovered and reread this little gem of a book in going through my shelves attempting to bring some order to them. I read it when it was originally published in 1982, at a time when our three children were respectively 12, 8 and 4, and its message seemed especially important and relevant. Mr. Postman advances the idea that the existence of a true childhood was not possible in medieval times and before, and only became possible and important with the invention of the printing press and the ...more
Nov 21, 2014 Cara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Neil Postman argues that (a) childhood is a social construct, not a biological fact and (b) childhood is disappearing because of television and modernity in general. The former is debatable but defensible (his exclusive focus on Europe/America leaves significant holes in his argument), but the latter is just ridiculous. It has been 30 years since this book was originally published, and as someone who went through childhood in the period since, I feel pretty comfortable saying that ...more
Jul 12, 2011 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book making the claim that the distinction between child and adult has largely disappeared in our world of new media. Postman wrote this a generation ago of the emerging dominance of television and one wonders what he would make of today's internet and social media.

The cultural concept of childhood is, according to Postman, a consequence of literacy. Print media created a world of knowledge and communication acquired through education. Over time certain topics, language, and themes
Apr 09, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: child psychologists, teachers, parents, conservitism is a plus
Shelves: my-books-read
Although I don't agree with EVERYTHING that was written (because I do seem to lean more towards the "liberal" side of things), I still give this book four stars, because of the way it was written. This book does raise some thought, and gives very interesting historical and psychological facts. The author did repeat himself, quite a few times, regarding the television, which did get "old" at times. I'm very glad I picked this one up, because I have learned a lot and my mind has been opened even m ...more
Pippa Robson
Jul 15, 2015 Pippa Robson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting view on childhood in the "modern" world. Appropriate for it's era but now rather out of date as it fails to include any mention of the effect of the internet on the young.
Петър Стойков
Малко е тъпо да питаме какво е детство и от кога го има нали? Та нали всички сме били деца?

Да, ама не съвсем, поне според автора на "Изчезващото детство". Нийл Постман се опитва да докаже, че през по-голямата част от историята на човечеството идеята за "детство" не е съществувала така, както я възприемаме сега, че на децата е гледано като на дребни, глупави възрастни и че чак последните 200-300 години появата на печатното слово в ежедневието разделя рязко човечеството на можещи и неможещи да чет
jose coimbra
Mar 20, 2015 jose coimbra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scilicet, clio
Neil Postman, neste clássico estudo publicado originalmente em 1982, não apenas descreve a história da constituição da ideia de infância, no rastro de P. Ariès, mas também assinala a experiência de seu desaparecimento.

O autor, crítico cultural e educador, natural dos EUA e falecido em 2003, desenha seu livro em duas partes. A primeira está centrada no tema da construção social da infância; a segunda, apresenta a tese de seu desaparecimento.

Postman mostra-nos que já entre gregos e romanos, certa
Barry Kenna
Jun 16, 2017 Barry Kenna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking look at how our mediums (etc Print, Radio, TV, Internet) not only affect children but how they the create the concept of childhood itself and are responsible for the gradual disappearance of childhood as we know it. The author seems to be saying that TV and the misuse of the internet can be seen as improved means to unimproved ends. It leaves you asking what are the advantages technological progress if it is not rooted in some form of moral framework. This book does not make so ...more
Television is killing your children -- conceptually. In 1985, Neil Postman penned Amusing Ourselves to Death, in which he, building off of the lesson in Technopoly that technology changes our culture without our knowledge, examined television’s malevolent effects on political, civic, and religious discourse. The Disappearance of Childhood, published in 1982, is an earlier form of this argument, and one which focuses only on the effects of television on childhood. In it, he asserts that childhood ...more
Jun 03, 2017 Mehrsa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think Postman is a modern prophet. This book was wonderful, but not quite as good as his other books. I think this book is less about childhood than it is about technology and TV, which he covers more fully elsewhere.
Rajat Jain
Decent book. Was a little too long and talked about familiar things. However, the six questions posed in the final chapter were thoughtful especially for me as a new parent. That itself made it worth reading.
although written in the 80's, much of this book is still relevant today, if not moreso. while i didn't totally buy in to some of what postman was saying, this was a very thought-provoking read.
Apr 20, 2011 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In 1982's The Disappearance of Childhood, Postman argues that what we define as "childhood" is a modern phenomenon. He defines "childhood" as the period from around age 7 – when spoken language is usually mastered – to around age 17 – when written language is mastered. Not coincidentally, these ages correspond to the typical school years.

The word "child" originally meant "son or daughter"; only in modern times did it gain its second meaning - "a person between birth and full growth". Prior to mo
Kurt Geisel
Jul 11, 2016 Kurt Geisel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Postman's 1982 publication was republished in 1994 with very minor edits and a forward assessing the state of his predictions (right on track and further irreversible) and declaring that he wasn't making substantive changes. This makes it even more remarkable in the continued accuracy of its predictions. We are still on the slippery slope and there is no reversal in sight.

Some of the specific cultural examples do feel dated (the dominance of television as a topic and the absence of the internet)
Oct 15, 2008 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somewhat dated - it was written in the very early 80's and revisited in the early 90's - this book none-the-less tells the simple tale of both the rise of the Western concept of Childhood (and by consequence, the concept of adulthood too) with the emergence of modern communication technology; in the first instance, the printing press.

The irony presented is that as we grew in terms of a rational, pluralistic and individualistic society, we created - but now risk rapidly abandoning - the period of
Feb 15, 2017 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
There is some heavy material in here, and lots of points for great discussion. I would love to read this at the same time as someone else and have a discussion about it. Any takers?
I would highly recommend it, not that I agreed with all his points, but that I think this is a good discussion to have, and a matter that deserves our consideration- especially if we have children.
Ashley Capes
Sep 14, 2012 Ashley Capes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When last I read The Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman, I was fascinated. It's such an interesting look at the institution of childhood and how it was formed, and further, how modern media is eroding it, that I nearly read the book again on the spot.

I found myself nodding along as I worked through it, reading passages aloud to my wife. As a teacher, having some first hand understanding of the rapidly narrowing gap between adult and child, reading the book was an enlightening and worthwh

Erik Akre
Jul 16, 2015 Erik Akre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents of any kind, educators of any kind
In his general work, Neil Postman relentlessly and effectively challenges the notion of progress through technology. Through an exploration of technology and literate culture, Postman sounds a strong warning. This book will be especially useful for educators, or those that work closely with children. (Not to mention parents...)

We cannot have adulthood without childhood. The two concepts go together. This book proposes a) that the very notion of childhood (and thus adulthood) stems from the preva
First half has cool media history, argument that printing press established modern social construction of childhood due to demands of literacy. Second half asserts that television is dissolving socially constructed idea of childhood. I don't think Postman looks at biological basis of childhood quite enough (puberty????) and he comes off as sensationalist, especially when looking at the "evidence" for the disappearance of childhood (I found it mostly unconvincing) He also doesn't much substantiat ...more
Jul 26, 2011 Kerith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
Of all the books by Postman that I've read this one is the grimmest. Probably because he combines most of his pet issues (TV, technology, education, etc) into the one big cause of this book's problem. I still agree with many of his points, but I could not completely swallow his fear that childhood is disappearing.
I agree that the media is a danger to children (especially girls) -- in their literacy, self-image, and position in the world -- and must be managed. Technology's latest, the internet,
Postman states that this is his favorite book that he has authored and I can see why. I would have liked to give it 4.5 stars simply because of some of his humanistic statements toward the end. His points are spectacular and very thought provoking.

The book illuminates issues that the general population has forgotten but does not bring forth any suggestions for change. Postman states this in the preface but concedes that he doesn't know how to fix the problem. He has some negative things to say
Dec 29, 2007 Stacy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Neil Postman, an important American educator, media theorist and cultural critic was probably best known for his popular 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. For more than four decades he was associated with New York University, where he created and led the Media Ecology program.

He is the author of more than thirty significant books on education, media criticism, and cultural change including Te
More about Neil Postman...

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“In saying no one knew about the ideas implicit in the telegraph, I am not quite accurate. Thoreau knew. Or so one may surmise. It is alleged that upon being told that through the telegraph a man in Maine could instantly send a message to a man in Texas, Thoreau asked, "But what do they have to say to each other?" In asking this question, to which no serious interest was paid, Thoreau was directing attention to the psychological and social meaning of the telegraph, and in particular to its capacity to change the character of information -- from the personal and regional to the impersonal and global.” 4 likes
“The literate mind has sown the seeds of its own destruction through the creation of media that render irrelevant those “traditional skills" on which literacy rests.” 0 likes
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