The Norton Slideshow Maker with Visual Sociology Exercises

How Have Kids' Worlds Changed?

John Grady, Wheaton College (MA)


Children have always been loved, but the efficacy of this love has been limited by the resources available to their families and societies. In the past, limited means usually meant less food, less warmth, and less room. In addition, the level and extent of what a society could provide in health care could seriously diminish the life chances of even a wealthy family. Just over a century ago in the United States the infant mortality rate-due to malnutrition, poor public hygiene and inadequate medical care-was about one out of every five live births, while the fertility rate (the average number of births per woman) was over five. Statistically speaking, these figures mean that it was a common experience for most women to lose at least one child before its first birthday. In most European societies the situation was even worse.

Today, the fertility rate in the United States is on average about two children per woman, and the infant mortality rate is below one in a hundred. For a woman to lose a child during its first year of life is a rare occurrence-about one out of 50. In other developed societies, the odds of such an occurrence are even lower.

Most parents in richer societies - like the United States, Europe, and Japan-now have the means to lavish love on a smaller number of children without having to endure the very real expectation that they might lose them to illness, accident or some other mishap.

A reduced work week-from 60 hours a week to under 40 by 1950-, better and roomier housing, and more disposable income has provided parents with the time and resources to make children a bigger priority in contemporary family life. But do parents today know more about how to manage their children's needs and desires?

Volunteer at a blood drive, soup kitchen, or other group volunteer event. Document the event in a slideshow. Interview participants about why they chose to volunteer and include quotations from those interviews in your slideshow.


View the slideshow

After you view the slideshow, answer the following questions:

1. The kids in the picture in the last slide of the slideshow don’t appear to be poor. In what other ways do they differ from the children pictured in von Zille’s illustration in Slide 2? What does this cartoon seem to suggest about the downside of a world where children can easily get what they desire?

Submit to Gradebook:

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Create your own slideshow:

After you view the slideshow and reflect on it, create your own, related slideshow. To focus your approach, read the paragraph below. Your instructor may ask you to e-mail a link to your slideshow, or you can print it out and hand it in.

Using either family photos, those you find on the web, ones that you take yourself, or some combination of all three, document in a slideshow how housework is allocated in your family or in the society generally. If possible, combine these photographs with testimony from people of different generations about their attitudes toward, and ways of, sharing housework. Be sure to pay attention to whether or not the division of household labor is an issue for those whom you interview. Be attentive to the fact that people who live in the same home may have very different—and perhaps even conflicting—views about the issue and their experience.