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Getting Your Teens in the Political Sphere

Harrison is 17 years old from New Jersey, and loves playing guitar, tennis, and learning about current events.  He wants to be a genetic counselor when he’s older and hopes to travel around the world.

Teens and Politics, news sources, politics, current events

The 2008 U.S. Presidential Election between Barack Obama and John McCain attracted unprecedented interest from the young populace.  While there hasn’t been a dull moment in our country since this election, I still feel that teenage students are still not politically aware enough in our country.  This generation, like every other generation before it, holds the future leaders of this nation.  I find it extremely pertinent for these future leaders to be kept informed of the current events on the front page of your morning newspaper.  Speaking of newspaper, could part of the issue be that nobody is getting the newspaper anymore?  Just last year, the circulation of many U.S. newspapers fell 5%, and this number is continuously dropping at alarming rates.  Not to say that the media is not alive and well, but it’s just something to think about…

To stay up to date with current events, personally I am active in my school’s debate team, in which I attend tournaments where I compete alongside a teammate in a 2 vs. 2 debate.  This is called Public Forum Debate, created by American media mogul and founder of CNN and TBS, Ted Turner.  We debate against students from other schools on topics that change monthly for all students around the nation, all debating the same topic.  They always are about current foreign and domestic policy involving our nation and others.  Being involved in this really helps me stay up to date with what’s going on in the world.

Here’s a tip: Order Newsweek, New York Times, or any other newspaper that suits your fancy.  Watch CNN, FOX, or NBC; no matter how biased or unbiased the media source is, it is still important to be knowledgeable, keep informed and be “in the know” of what’s going on in the country.

Your kids may not admit it, but many students really do feel like they would love to be able to partake in an intellectual discussion or debate with others about current events.  Just today I had a raging but thoughtful conversation with friends at the lunch table in school over abortion rights and recent immigration laws. (FYI, we normally talk about normal kid stuff- this conversation was spurred by remarks made by another student in our history class.)  It can really get fun and interesting at times, and it’s great to feel informed about your society and what’s actually going on behind the scenes in your country.

Matt Damon, who is actually very politically active and expresses his views widely, agrees about the importance of kids being a part of the political sphere, “This country is about participation, activism, understanding the history of the country, understanding your place in that history, being involved and being a productive part of the American experience.”

So go grab a Newsweek the next time you go to the supermarket, and if your kid digs it, sign up for a subscription.  Remember that your kids are the future of this nation- and if they’re not involved, then who will be?

This Week’s Sponsor:
If you can survive a teenager, you can survive anything.
In Leah’s Wake – a novel by Terri Giuliano Long
“This is a story that will stay with you for days and weeks.” –Radical Parenting

 

Don’t Believe the Lies

Abby is 16 years old and lives in Oakland, CA. She loves music, volleyball, and spending time with her friends.

On October 23rd, 2010, Saturday Night Live performed a sketch titled “Souping, Trampolining, and Silly Bandz.” The sketch was a parody on today’s newscasts, in which a parent and teen were both informed of new teen trends such as “souping” and “trampolining.” Both of these trends were obviously made up by the newscaster. The teenage girl blatantly told the reporter that the trends were onexistent, but the mother began worrying and overreacting to the news that her teenage daughter may be doing things such as “drinking expired soup to get high.”

The skit got a lot of laughs, and, as with many SNL skits, this is because of its level of verity behind it. Today’s media is filled with lies and is more concerned about having some sort of scare factor to catch people’s attention than having legitimate stories about real things that actually matter.

One thing the parody portrayed very well was how quickly people jump to conclusions just because they heard something on television. In the same way the parents on the skit immediately trusted the media, and then immediately assumed their teens were a part of the made up fad, everyday people right now are to quick to believe the first opinion they hear about anything, and then apply that opinion to
their everyday lives. This is happening with all sorts of topics, from politics to the economy, to global warming, but it is especially true with teens and parents.

There are many different places that parents are acquiring this false knowledge. The news is big, which makes sense, but parents are also hearing rumors from other (even less reliable) sources.

The point of this post is to tell people (especially parents) to think things through for themselves, and not to jump to conclusions. Teens have enough fighting against them already, and they really don’t need false information making them even more subject to scrutiny.

Teens and Politics

Alekxa is a 16-year-old from Los Angeles, CA. She enjoys running, eating, volunteering, and being with her friends.

It is never too early to start becoming involved in politics and the current state of your nation. Where one lives should matter to them. Whether it be as large as their entire or nation or just their local neighborhood. Teenagers, especially must become active in their community if they desire to make changes and have better lives for themselves and for future generations.

As spoken out before, democracy is not a spectator sport. Teens need to realize this now, so their confidence will grow and be able to vocalize what they believe. Learning about politics and how our government works is the first step in becoming involved in how our country is run.

 As often as we teens hear this and as tedious as it becomes it is completely true: we are the leaders of tomorrow. We control the future and we decide how good or how bad it will be. The choice is ours.

There are many fun and productive ways to begin your interest in politics. The greatest thing teens can then do with their knowledge is share it with others, so more people will start taking interest and becoming concerned with their environment. The earlier people in general start caring about their government and how it is run, higher standards of living will be demanding.

Taking part in the process of campaigning can be an incredible opportunity. Volunteering or interning for a certain  candidate a teen really feels they resonate with can be an excellent learning experience and prepare them for their  future life in politics.

Start a club at your school or enroll in an outside of school organization.  JSA or the Junior Statesmen Foundation is an organization I have personally recently taken part of. It offers schools across the nation to create a chapter where teens can discuss current issues within their community. There are also conventions a few times a years where all different school come together to debate and converse on important topics within the media and the country.

Just watching the news, listening to talk shows, and reading a newspaper are extraordinary ways for youth to keep themselves informed with up to date reports. It is imperative for teens to remember to watch a variety of news stations so they do not get one biased story, but rather make up their mind on what their opinion. To take it to the next step there are little, basic things like writting a petition for the mayor or having a mini protest agasinst something in your community are great, simple ways to unite with peers and take a stand. It is
never too early to take part in something bigger than yourself.

Girl Uses YouTube to Talk About Her Rape

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=mfg3w11_A_E[/youtube]

Breaking News reported here at CNN. Orange County, FL teen named Crystal confesses on YouTube she has been taped and needs help because the Orange Country courts have dropped her case.

Crystal is looking for comfort, she is looking for help, but is she divulging too much information?

Remembering Heath Ledger: Lessons For Teens

heath_ledger_teens.jpg

It has finally be reported that Heath Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose. According to CNN, Ledger had unknowingly mixed prescription drugs into a lethal combination. This is a terribly sad story and many of the teens I work with have wanted to discuss it with me, because he truly was an actor of our generation. I think that in remembering his legacy, it is also a good time to talk to kids and teens about prescription drug use.

Unfortunately, the use of prescription drugs for recreation amongst teens has risen significantly. I will never forget that during midterm time, many of my college friends would pass around bottles of Adderal to stay awake and cram. They would combine these ‘uppers’ with coffee, red bull and then tranquilizers when they finally had time to sleep.

Ledger’s death is a horrible reminder that prescription pills can be dangerous if not taken correctly. Please talk to your kids about prescription drugs!

1) Explain that Prescription Drugs are Powerful

2) Explain the Potential Consequences of Mixing Drugs

3) Explain the Potential Consequences of Taking Drugs for a Condition You Do Not Have

Specifically, it is important to talk to your kids about the use of ADD medication and uppers in schools. Here is an article from Brandeis Student Newspaper about taking ADD medication to study. Many times, this can actually cause ADD like symptoms in once normal students!

4) Keep An Eye On Your Pills and Their Behavior

I hate to suggest this, but it is important to notice if some of your prescription drugs are missing. Keep an eye out for odd behavior and/or unusual cramming before an exam.

Stay Aware,

Vanessa

*Image Courtesy of The Cinema Source

Supporters

Prescription drug addicts suffer the same fate as other substance addicts hence addiction treatment should be sought for those struggling with any type of dependency no matter the substance.

2-13-2008 Parent News Summary

Washington Post: Study Shows Social Sites Are Safer than Iming
Even though 15% of kids experience unwanted sexual solicitation online, most of the unwanted solicitation actually happens in chat rooms and via instant messaging, not on Facebook or Myspace!

MTV is Investing Heavily Online Gaming
Do your kids watch MTV? If they do, they might soon be playing MTV, execs are now building a huge online gaming component to their network and website.

Microsoft’s DigiGirlz High Tech Summer Camps
I posted earlier about some ideas for summer camps and I think computer camp is not only a great activity, but will help teach kids to use computers responsibly (and it doesn’t have to keep coming from you!)

teen-parent-news-digsby.pngCool: Way to Link All IMs with email, Facebook, MySpace
Ever wondered how your kids were able to manage four thousand different accounts and friends? Well, now it will be much easier for you or your kids. Digsby is a website that gives people a way to organize their contacts from Yahoo Messenger, AOL IM, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber, and Windows Live Messenger, as well as e-mail, Facebook, and MySpace.com in a single place..the Internet is taking over!

Trend: HadtoSay.com
In honor of Valentines Day coming up, lots of teens are using this new site to send each other anonymous video messages. Could be cute for you too?

Viral Teen Video: Bill Gates Last Day at Microsoft:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lE21kpE3M0&feature=related[/youtube]

This video is really funny and young people are especially clicking away because it is peppered with celebrity cameos.

Kindo.com Can Social Networking Actually Be Good For Your Family?
Here you can track what your family is doing, share photos and plan events.

Business Week: MySpace Generation Fed Up?
Time on social networking sites is dropping and the ad clickthroughs are not good.

4 Ways to Explain Jamie-Lynn Spears to Your Kids

16 year-old Jamie-Lynn Spears is pregnant…from her 19 year-old boyfriend. She is keeping the baby.

This story frightens me. Jamie Lynn is the star of a Nickelodeon Program called Zoey 101, which is aimed at 9-14 year olds, and if I were Nickelodeon, I would be scared too. The network is now considering running a special on teenagers and sex with Linda Ellerbee.

I have a lot of respect for Linda Ellerbee, and think she is a great journalist, but she is extremely out-of-touch to talk to kids today about sex. If Zoey 101’s creator Dan Schneider and some of the other directors of the show like Steve Hoefer and Steve Holland cared about their viewers, then they would do more than just a special with Linda Ellerbee.

Jamie Lynn Spears was admired and respected by her 9 to 14 year old viewers, so when she gets pregnant by a much older boyfriend, these kids and teens are confused. Does Nickelodeon really think that these same viewers are going to tune in to watch a special about pregnancy? And if they do tune in, what will make them listen? Surely it will not be Linda Ellerbee. She might be a respected journalist by adults, but she knows nothing about what teens are going through today in terms of dating, iming, school dances and high school relationships in the 2000’s.

jamie_lynn.jpgNickelodeon should be doing a program run by teens themselves and have a round table discussion about issues they face and how they are dealing with them and then their thoughts on Jamie Lynn Spears. Nick viewers would be much better served by this and, I believe, so would Nickelodeon’s executives and business developers: Samantha Greene Woodruff pay attention!

I would not recommend relying on Nick’s Special as it is currently developing, but parents definitely need to talk to their kids about this, here is what I recommend:

1) Tell them the What Happened:
Rumors fly, one of my clients told me that she thinks Jamie-Lynn’s boyfriend was really her cousin, who was also dating Britney and might be her baby’s daddy. Go over the facts with your child so they know the real story.

2) Ask them what they think:
This is crucial! Before telling them what you think, ask them what they think. To be honest, most teens think Jamie Lynn’s behavior is just as bad as you do. So, if they tell you that they think what she did was wrong and give you a bunch of reasons, then you do not need to tell them anything except that you are proud they can think that maturely.

3) Talk about the Repercussions:
Again, before telling them how horrible you think this is, brainstorm with them on the effect that this will have on Jamie Lynn’s life, as well as her boyfriend’s life, her family’s life and her unborn baby’s life. We are just as terrified as you are about getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant. Asking them: “what do you think will happen for the poor baby?” “Do you think Jamie Lynn Spears will be able to lead a ‘normal’ life after this?” “Do you think she is ready for a baby?” “Do you think she was ready to have sex?” “What do you think the boyfriend’s life will be like now that he is having a baby?” Thinking about these questions can be better than you just telling them your opinion, guiding them through what is happening for the Spear’s family can be a frightening and realistic consequence of being irresponsible so young.

4) See my previous post
A few days ago, I had posted about the rise in teen pregnancies and I gave 6 tips for parents who want to talk to their kids about sex. If you feel like you haven’t talked to your kids enough about safe sex, abstinence, STD’s and relationships, then please, please, please have it again–especially, if your teen wasn’t very responsive to the tips above.

I really hope that Nickelodeon gets it right and takes what it does so well with its shows–catering to a younger audience, and applies it to educating a younger audience on a very important topic.