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
Tags: , , ,

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.>


A new report on Teens & Sexting December 15, 2009

Filed under: Culture,technology,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 8:13 pm
Tags: , , ,

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.


Exposing themselves bare – new online fad December 11, 2008

Filed under: Culture,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 6:51 am
Tags: , , ,

Young people are exposing more of their skin on the web. Getting naked in front of webcamera and cellphones are getting cooler than you think. “Baring and sharing’ it with friends is the new fad among teens with access to technology. Age of high tech flirting, I guess.

Almost one quarter (22 percent) of all teen girls and 11 percent ages 13-16 – say they have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude images of themselves, according to a survey conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. One-third of teen boys and one-quarter of teen girls say they have had private nude/semi-nude images shared with them. Read reports in Boston HeraldMSNBC and Boston Globe.

There is no sense of shame any more. Many of the teens do not do it within any intention of being a porn star. Before you realize your naked image is going around the world at lightening speed. Boys are also keen on capturing embarssing poses or force young girls to take off their clothes over webchat sessions, often not knowing that others can capture it permanently.

Why do the girls do it? The survey found that girls post these pictures mostly to be fun and flirtatious. To attract boys or compete with other girls. To be trendy like some teen celebrities and to make a fashion statement (baring your natural outfit?) Nude pictures of old girlfriends or girls in your school could be used a weapon to blackmail or getting to do what they want.

Technology might have something to do with this trend. Cheaper digital camera and cellphones camera are everywhere. Ease of uploading and numerous photo sites have encouraged this further. But above all sites like Myspace, facebook and other social networking sites contain numerous semi-clad images.


Unhealhty habits of teens May 27, 2008

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 10:01 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Guess, what are some of underlying causes of unhealthy habits of teens… TV in their bedrooms! A new study published recently by the University of Minnesota School Public Health found that teenagers who have a television in their bedroom are more likely to have unhealthy lifestyles: from poor eating habits, to bad grades, to less time spent with the family. See a report in Science Daily.

We all know having television in kids bedrooms increases media consumption. Kids are more likley to watch shows in the privacy of their rooms what they would not watch in the living room with rest of the family. It also increases sedantry lifestyle, leading to obesity and other health hazards. What they watch also shape their behaviors and character. They become early adopters of fashion, music, food and other cultural products as a result. They consume what is trendy, not necessarily what is healthy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents remove television sets from their children’s bedrooms. Inspite of such warning the stud found two-thirds of teens having television in their bedrooms. Another increasing trend is having laptop with wireless connections of their own. Often parents get such advanced technology to aid their school work, but inceasingly being used for anything but school work.

Dangerous trend indeed that has repercussion on youth ministry. Watch out youtworkers!


Skipping breakfast is not a good idea March 25, 2008

Filed under: Culture,Family,health,News,Youth — Sam George @ 9:05 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Did you have your breakfast today? About 25% of teens in US skips breakfast. Kids in your home or kids under your care in church or school, may be picking up some bad eating habits – not eating breakfast!

A study of teen health, lifestyles and eating habits done by University of Minneapolis is out. Teenagers who regularly eat breakfast tend to weigh less, exercise more and eat a more healthful diet than their breakfast-skipping peers. Eating breakfasts is a healthy habit. Leaving tummy empty for prolonged duration is harmful. Nothing very surprising, I guess!

Breakast is the most important meals of the day. Filling up bellies in the morning may control their appetite better throughout the day. It might also prevent food binges at lunch or dinner. It might also cut down junk food consumption. Staying up late or morning rush often leaves us with little time for breakfast. Whether it be school or college or work, we find ourselves rushing out of the door without morning meal.

If you tend skip breakfast, it is time to fix that lifestyle. Get into a habit of regularly eating your breakfast, even if it is something small or on the run. Something is better than nothing. Family that eats together stays healhy. Such teens have less eating disorders!


Why Teens are Rebellious? February 25, 2008

Filed under: Family,News,Youth — Sam George @ 9:01 pm
Tags: , , ,

Teens and rebelliousness are synonyms (at least in most cases). I was …. how about you?There is something about being a teenager that they push the boundaries, frustrated with the way things are, feel caged in, sense their freedom curtailed, want to explore what is out there etc. Many mistakes are made, some lessons are learned.. but eventually they all grow up.

New reserach findings are out (also here). Rebelliousness among teens may stem from biology. Teen brains function differently from that of adults. The prefrontal cortex – the area that controls judgment, organization, emotions — is largely immature in a teenager’s head and if you don’t have the neural structure in place, the adolescent cannot really think things through at the same level as an adult.

Adding to the biological development of brains, there is a burst of hormones coursing through kids as they enter puberty. The hormones affect not only a teenager’s sex drive, but also lead to temporary aggressiveness and moodiness.

Next teens act weird, moms/dads/youth workers remember it is not just the teen-angust or rebelliousness, but blame it on their brains! It is a clearn sign that they need help. Although they quickly grow into adult bodies, they emotional and mental development lags behind. Of they need help in spiritual development as well.


Parents more Active in Raising Teens January 2, 2008

Filed under: Family,Leadership,News,Youth — Sam George @ 10:23 pm
Tags: , , ,

Parents of teens are more involved in their children’s life today than 10 years ago. A new US census study reported this new trend. Is this new generation of parents interfering with children’s freedom or children welcoming parental involvement?

For example, in 2004, 47 percent of teenagers had restrictions on what they watched on television, when they watched, and for how long, up from 40 percent in 1994. In 2004, 53 percent of children younger than 6 ate breakfast with their parents every day. That compared with only 22 percent of teenagers who ate breakfast with their parents each morning. Those percentages increased at the dinner table, where 78 percent of children younger than 6 ate dinner nightly with their parents, compared with 57 percent of teenagers. Children 1 to 2 were read to an average of 7.8 times in the previous week of the survey while children 3 to 5 were read to an average of 6.8 times in the previous week. About half of all children 1 to 5 are read to seven or more times a week; 53 percent for 1- to 2-year-olds, and 51 percent for 3- to 5-year olds.”

I am amazed that someone studies families that closely. It never occured, though cominng to think of it is very true, that some parental routines have long term implication of next generations development and future of nations. The study addresses children’s living arrangements, family characteristics, time spent in child care, academic experience, extracurricular activities and more. 

Believe it or not, I know of another study about parenting that asked children if they want more of their parents time with them and majority of kids desired for more parental involvement. Kids need parents and other adults to develop into healthy adulthood. Absense of father or abusive adults cause permanent damage into adolescent psyche that cannot be easily repaired.