Coconut Generation

The Next Generation of Asian Indians

Growing Up Too Fast? December 26, 2009

Filed under: Child Development,Parenting,Psychology — Sam George @ 9:23 pm
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I have heard from several parents and thinkers that today’s kids are growing up too fast. What does that really mean? Are kids missing out on childhood? Is childhood culturally shaped or due to the fact they are growing up in an advanced/western society? Does it matter?

Young people today process more information in a year than one generation ago had done throughout their entire adolescence. They are more exposed, more aware, more travelled, more skilled (especially with technology) than the previous generation. They think and express ahead of their age. Or, should we say we are stuck in the old way of thinking?

Marketers know this all too well. ‘Catch them young’ is their slogan. Winning brand allegiance early on can reap rich dividends not only in the future, but for immediate quarter sales as well. Young people in every stage of life today have more disposable wealth than a generation ago and are more flirtatious with it.

The rise in eating disorders, drug and alcohol usage, and violent behaviors are all seeping into younger kids. Deviant behaviors of college kids can now be seen among high schoolers and those of junior high can now be observed among middle schoolers. What was 18 is now 13!

Kids today are exposed to more sex than ever. Racy television shows, ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ and explicitly naked images are freely disseminated to younger audiences. The puberty and first sexual experience ages are sliding downward. Pregnant sixth graders and scores of teens with post abortion trauma are becoming less of an aberration.

All of these and other reasons make kids ‘older’ than they really are. Kids might become independent early and even handle adult responsibility well, but this does not make them adults. Having adult like bodies or doing grown-up chores are not enough. Transition into adulthood requires a coherent sense of self, vocational commitment, moral conviction and emotional maturity.

Sometimes parents force children to achieve too much too soon. Parents try to live out their unachieved dreams through their children or they strive to make them even more successful than they are. Attempts in transforming their kids into stars and child prodigies, even though they are not naturally gifted, have disastrous consequences.

Fleeting innocence and early maturation isolates kids from their peers. Lack of friendship and a sense of belonging can adversely affect any person. Parental expectation or negligence further aggravates this crisis. ‘Hurried’ children handle enormous levels of stress and often suffer from early burn out.

Parent must maintain the delicate balance between protecting children from over exposure without intruding into their lives. Avoid ‘when I was your age’ talk and actively get involved their lives. Hurried intellectual, emotional and social development is unhealthy.

Parenting is a much harder job than what we signed up for. Nevertheless, it can be very fulfilling as well. Slow down. Take time to be with your children. Let them be kids. Stop rushing through parenting – our most important assignment in life! Perhaps our children aren’t growing up too fast, rather we are parenting too fast.

<First appeared in Sam’s weekly column in India Tribune.>

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A new report on Teens & Sexting December 15, 2009

Filed under: Culture,technology,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 8:13 pm
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Youth once again is in the forefront of embracing a new technoculture – phone texting. Cell phones are becoming a constant companion of young people and texting is growing in popularity with the young. Young people with cell phones and unlimited texting also found to exchange not only simple text messages, but also nude pictures of themselves or others – a phenomena popularly known as ‘sexting.’

According to a new poll by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, About 1 in 7 American teens with cellphones say they have received nude or nearly nude photos by text message. Among older teens, almost 30%admitted to have seen sexual images on their cell phones. Researchers claim that sexting has clearly become a part of teen culture and may have unintended consequences .

See Pew report in its entirety at Teen & Sexting. See also news report on Washington Post, MSNBC and CNN.

What do young people really do? They send and recieve sexually suggestive photos or videos, provocative sexual comments or nude images they have downloaded from the Internet. Why do they do it? Some simply for fun, other who are in romantic relationships, expressing sexual intention or peer rivlarly or to defame somebody.

Sexually suggestive images are becoming a new form of relationship currency. Young people in relationships trade images to each other. What they do not realize is that images that you send to your friend can easily to forward to others or posted on Internet for everyone to view. Phones with camera, Internet connectivity and lots of memory makes this extremely easy thing to do.

When conflict arises in relationship or when it falls out, sexting message can be used to retalitate or blackmail and even seek sexual favors from old girlfriends. Some teens even took their own lives after being harassed and taunted by their peers for their naked photos starting circulating. This trend is becoming a doorway to porn addiction among teens.

But school and safety officials warn that parents should be vigilant in monitoring how their teens use technology. From time to time Parents must browse through your teen’s phone for saved images, videos or send/recieved text messages. Parents should concentrate on making their kids aware of the potential legal and emotional ramifications of sexting.