Monday, March 31, 2008
Would you Jump Off Too?
Remember that annoying question your parents would throw at you when you wanted to do or have something that some other kid had? Would you jump off the (insert large structure here) if everyone else did? It was annoying and had an effectiveness of 98%. It allowed our parents a philosophical alternative than the plain old "no". From where I stand, this effective parenting tool has gone the way of the dodo bird.
About three years ago, my daughter broke her wrist. While sitting in the waiting room at the specialists office I overheard a conversation between a teenage boy (probably around 13 or 14) and his mother. He spent 15 minutes badgering his mother to upgrade his cell phone plan. It would only cost $40 more per month. What was the big deal? His mother tried to explain that if they paid that extra money then his plan would be more than his parents paid for their coverage. The young lad was not to be swayed by this. He needed the extra fifty ring-tones, the text messaging, the... the... the list ran on. His mother shifted in her seat uncomfortably. Finally he brought out the big gun, "EVERYONE ELSE HAS IT". He counted his friends on his fingers as though this were incontrovertible evidence. Before we rose to meet with the doctor, I heard the poor woman mutter, "Well if everyone else has it, let me see what I can do."
Expensive and unnecessary gadgetry have spread like a tenacious stomach virus. My son, who just turned 9, is constantly telling me about kids his age or younger who regularly come to school carrying hundreds of dollars worth of electronics. How can you possibly be expected to manage the fifteen minute ride to school without your cell phone, iPod or Nintendo DS? To these kids it's like candy, it's fun for the moment but as soon as something offering more whiz and bang comes along, it's tossed aside.
I can't fault the kids in this, after all they're just kids. They will gladly attempt to get what they can. I can blame my fellow parents who choose to raise their kids gazing over their shoulders. I'm not condemning because I know how difficult it is to navigate in a culture that blast advertising at you 24 hours a day. We're constantly being brainwashed to believe the message that purchasing=love. Just because everyone else seems to be doing it, it doesn't mean that it's a good thing, despite what advertisers would like you to believe. So if everyone else were jumping off that cliff, would you?