Saturday, November 14, 2015

What Are Our Children Learning from the News?

If I had it my way, kids wouldn't be exposed to media and the evils of the world. Nobody's kids would, but especially not mine.

Regardless of how I feel, they hear and see the news, even when we do our best to protect them from it.

Let's see. Just this past week, we had a Republican Presidential candidate asked if he would abort a baby Hitler. On the Democratic side of the ticket, Hillary Clinton supporters are fending off rumors that she wears wigs.

Are these issues we want our children talking about? Whether or not to abort a baby? That opens up a whole can of worms many of us parents are not ready for. As far as the wigs...really? That something like that would even be considered a news story is beyond me.

We have a 9 year old Florida boy being threatened sexual harassment charges by the principal over a love note. An innocent love note that was once considered "sweet" and "cute" has now been escalated to sexual predator level. 

The attacks in Paris are claiming airwaves today, while ISIS, probably the most fearless terrorist groups in the world, boldly takes responsibility for it. It's scary stuff, to say the least.

Evil "news" is all around us. You can claim that your children are not exposed to these headlines, but I advise you to sit down for a moment with them and find out what they have really heard about.

You would be surprised what they know about from their friends and schools. And if they have Internet access, they have the whole world of news in their hands.

Then, there's social media and videos floating around, making "new stories" that shouldn't even make headlines. Companies like Starsludge - yeah, I said that - acting like taking a snowflake off of their cups is a religious freedom and equality statement.
And, for some reason, we are buying into that fallacy.

To make the headlines even more ludicrous, we have rich-man-running-for-President-just-because-he-can, Donald Trump, talking about boycotting Starsludge as consumers. Kinda like a kid saying, "I'm not playing with you because you're not wearing that red shirt with the snowflakes that I like." Which isn't a whole lot different than the other nonsense Trump has been spouting off.

OK, that's fine for those who actually drank the sludge to begin with. Sure, go ahead and boycott them with Trump. I never did. The coffee, or latte, or whatever else they serve, is undeniably horrible anyway.

As far as the crap all over Facebook and the ranting video that started it all, the moment I heard it, I called it as it was. It's all about the media. Seems that CNBC agrees with me...a few days late anyway. I called it on Facebook first.

Truth of the matter is, none of this news reflects on the morals and values that we want our children to learn. But, does that mean we should shelter our children from it all? It opens up topics for conversations that are vital to teaching them life lessons.

Sure, there are a lot of headlines we would love to keep our hands over our children's ears about. But, are we helping them to adapt to the world they are growing up in by doing that? Are we actually protecting them?

One day - and it will come sooner than later - they will have to come up with their own opinions and assessments on these types of headlines. Why not help them form those opinions and assessments now, while they are still young? Why not use the headlines as a way to discuss world news, relations, religion, and other topics with our kids?

I would love to say that we need to protect our children from this stuff, but the truth is, we can't. So, we have to be smart enough to take the news as it comes. We have to teach our children to not be reactionary and to look at news from every angle.

Like the Staraludge issue. People are being reactionary. Do you think Starsludge cares? No, they are making their money, plus getting a ton of free publicity. What company would complain about that? 

We need to take a step back when we watch the news. Get out of our emotional and reactionary human minds and think behind the headlines. That is what we need to teach our children to do.

ISIS, or whoever is responsible for the Paris attacks, is loving the media attention. That's looking behind the headlines. They want people to see the blood and the fear. And we are buying into it.

Sadly, our kids see it, too. There is nothing wrong with teaching our children that there is evil in this world. And that the evil loves to be in the headlines, because evil loves attention.

What I'm mostly saying is that, obviously, we want to "protect" our children from the evils of the world, but we aren't necessarily protecting them by keeping them away from the headlines in the news.

Rather, by taking a step back behind the headlines and talking to our kids about news from that perspective, we are educating them, and by further discussing feelings and thoughts about the topics in the headlines, we are helping them cope, so to speak, with what is happening around the world.

We need to make sure that our children are learning what we want them to learn from the news, because we can't keep them packed up in a box, away from it all.
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