An interesting article on the Associated Press wire this morning about how children are growing up too fast: 10 is the New 15 as Kids Grow Up Faster. The quote that most jumped out at me is:
“Some of them are going on “dates” and talking on their own cell phones. They listen to sexually charged pop music, play mature-rated video games and spend time gossiping on MySpace. And more girls are wearing makeup and clothing that some consider beyond their years.”
What I don’t understand is where the parents are in this situation.
I understand the tension of children who want to be like their favorite teen idol or movie star, want to identify with the products and services that are oh so carefully marketed to them, a billion dollar segment, but where are the parents in this situation?
Even in the article, there’s “great concern” expressed by child development experts over this new trend of ten year olds who are maturing faster, but there’s precious little about parents who might just say “no” occasionally.
Here’s another good quote, another good reason to minimize your children’s exposure to media:
“Beyond the drugs, sex and rock’n’roll their boomer and Gen X parents navigated, technology and consumerism have accelerated the pace of life, giving kids easy access to influences that may or may not be parent-approved. Sex, violence and foul language that used to be relegated to late-night viewing and R-rated movies are expected fixtures in everyday TV.”
Our solution? Our kids simply don’t watch any TV at all. Well, that’s not true. Our 10yo daughter watched White Christmas with me yesterday because she was stuck on the couch feeling miserable with a cold. Still, even the worst scene in White Christmas is positively banal compared to even the typical advertisement on TV nowadays.
The way that parental permissiveness is presented in the article is quite interesting too, basically suggesting that the most permissive parents have the most popular kids in school, and that being strict de facto removes your kids from the chance to be considered cool or popular.
At least there’s one person who has a similar attitude we have regarding pre-teen dress: “parents sometimes gravitate to one of two ill-advised extremes — they’re either horrified by such questions from their kids, or they “revel” in the teen-like behavior. As an example of the latter reaction, she notes how some parents think it’s cute when their daughters wear pants or shorts with words such as “hottie” on the back.”
As you might expect, we don’t let our 10yo dress in “sexy” (well, I call them “slutty”) clothing, but you know what? She doesn’t want to. She’s happier in a modest t-shirt with a unicorn on the front than any belly-baring clothing, and she finds the whole idea of words emblazoned on your bottom to be a very strange form of advertising. And I agree!
I read a few days ago that the average person is now assaulted by an average of 3000 commercial messages every day. I’d like to think that perhaps by controlling our family’s media interaction, by only getting our children advertising-free magazines to read, and by emphasizing books over TV and video, we’re at least cutting that in half.
How about you? Do you think that pre-teens are growing up faster than they used to, and if so, what are you doing to try and ease things in your own household?