Yapko laments that "Storytelling seems to have become an art on the decline" (2003, p. 322). He adds that television has so saturated our society that we have become passive viewers of experience and that interactions with people have diminished as we spend more time "talking" to computers. Apart from this concern that the personal, interactive art of storytelling is being lost, I have an added concern that the content or nature of the stories children hear is also changing. Many computer games are based on stories of violence and aggression, while many television programs—even cartoons— tell tales of war, murder, violence, and disturbed relationships. They are based on a principle of entertainment rather than on the traditional principles of using stories to communicate values and essential life skills.
The nature of the media-based stories that we, and our children, hear does have an impact. It effects how we behave and how we respond, even if there may be many individual variations in the types of responses we make. If not, would companies spend so much on advertising the stories of their products and services? With the sort of stories that our children are hearing from so many different sources in their life, we need to ask whether one story, told once in a therapist's office, is going to counterbalance the stories children hear through television news items, computer games, disturbed family relationships, pop songs, or violent schoolyard behavior. It may, but it may not. However,within this age of technology we can continue to tell our children helpful, adaptive stories, to reclaim the art of storytelling and communicate the nature of stories that are judged appropriate by informed parents, teachers, or therapists. Hearing them, with reasonable frequency, from persons a child is close to, loves, or respects in the context of a caring relationship can enhance their potency. Thus, it seems logical and desirable to teach parents and other caregivers to do for their children what we as therapists or teachers might do.
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