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Essays Growing Up Too Fast

Living in the 21st century we are faced with many issues around the world and in our own societies. In my opinion I would say the biggest issue In our society currently is the speed that children are growing up these days. There was a time when kids enjoyed being kids. Today, even at the earliest of ages, children are partaking in adult activities with serious consequences. Similar

to what we see with alcohol and drugs, sex is a very popular and portrayed subject matter. The movies, TV, the internet, everywhere a kid turns he or she is bombarded with sexual suggestions. In fact, there are entire TV series marketed directly to kids dealing with sex. For example, The Secret Lives of an American Teenager and Teen Mom, to name two. Music is a culprit as well. Songs have always had sexual innuendos, but at least “back in the day” you had to be old enough to understand them.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Today, it’s all about “How low can you go” and “baby let me sex you up.” Kids are having sex as early as 10 and 11, with teen pregnancies increasingly on the rise. The concept of childhood is literally being wiped out. The thing is that children hear the word &#8220;child&#8221; and automatically associate it with immature. Therefore they do everything they can to move as far away as possible from the word. If we were to get together to help fix this problem our society would be a much better place. Think about it, 20 years ago at the age of 12- 16, teens would be going outside socializing. Nowadays the only way we can use the word &#8220;social&#8221; in a sentence is when we&#8217;re talking about networks. Kids need to experience their lives one step at a time in order to grow up civilized and with a good head on their shoulders.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">We already see how this problem is affecting our current society, what with watching &#8220;funny&#8221; videos of two kids around the age of 8 &#8220;dirty dancing&#8221; at a family gathering. If we don&#8217;t fix this increasing problem now, who knows what our next generations could turn out like. Some ways parents can do their part in solving this problem is by monitoring their child&#8217;s internet activity. A child should not have the right to a social network before the age of 13. The networks already do their part by putting an age restriction but we all know us kids have a way of getting around the button to confirm you are 16 years of age or older. It&#8217;s up the to the parents and the older siblings to help raise the newer generation in a better way. Another way is to use the word &#8220;no&#8221; for once.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">A child can pout and cry all he or she wants but at the end of the day they are learning discipline. Half of these little girls are going out wearing crop tops and short shorts with no one to tell them, how are they going to know the difference between &#8220;in style&#8221; and just plain vulgar? As women we also have to teach the younger generation of girls that makeup is not necessary. All it does is change your natural beauty and make you look older than you are. Last and probably the most important is spending good old quality time with family.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">I know from personal experience that spending time with family and close friends always makes a child feel like a child, and to me that&#8217;s not such a bad thing. I feel fixing this problem will highly increase the maturity levels of the future adults of our society and at the same time it will give kids a chance to let loose and be kids. I don&#8217;t know about you, but to me, playing in the snow on a cool winter day sounds a lot better than sitting at home playing flappy birds all day.</p>

Two stories in the Times over the past few days raise the same kinds of questions: How young is too young? When did childhood become something to leapfrog through?

The first, an essay in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend by Peggy Orenstein, is about homework in kindergarten. Orenstein concludes that it doesn’t help children later in life, that it may in fact be harmful to learning, and that there has to be a stop to the trend of children doing things younger and sooner.

“How did 5 become the new 7, anyway?” she asks, then doles out blame among parents, schools that are “teaching to the test” and “what marketers refer to as KGOY — Kids Getting Older Younger — their explanation for why 3-year-olds now play with toys that were initially intended for middle-schoolers. (Since adults are staying younger older — 50 is the new 30! — our children may soon surpass us in age.)”

It’s not just academics and toy preferences in which age creep is a problem. Teen singing stars used to actually be teens. And sports used to be something young children did for fun, not profit. Here, too, one has to wonder how much of the cause lies with the parents, who either actively encourage their child or fail to discourage them from narrowing their lives at too young an age.

Yes, Tiger started young. But would he have lost any ground had he started later? And for every Tiger, are there not countless other children who have burned out early because they leapt too fast and too soon out of the gate?

In his book “Young Runners,” Marc Bloom responds to the question he says too many parents (and he cops to this one himself) ask:

“Is your child a star? No. Doctors specializing in youth sports and child development say that, despite what some parents may think, there is no such thing as an 8-, 9- or 10-year-old ‘star’ in running. … True talent and commitment are not genuine before puberty.”

Which leads us to a second piece here in the Times this weekend, about race-car driver Macy Causey — who is eight years old. “I like going fast,” the second grader told reporter Bill Konigsberg, sounding an awful lot like Will Ferrell’s character in Talledega Nights, “and I like spinning out.”

Macy drives a 550-pound Bandalero racecar, which stands less than three feet off the ground and can reach speeds of 75 m.p.h., though speeds are restricted to 60 m.p.h. in the 8- to 15-year-old class in which she competes.

Konigsberg paints a portrait of a child who loves her sport, and of parents who have given a lot of thought to her safety. But he also tells stories of kids hitting walls and flipping cars during these races. And he only hints at the question of whether fulfilling your lifelong dreams at the age of eight is a prescription for a mid-life crisis shortly before puberty.

Today’s parents, critics tell us, are managing to mess up our kids in two contradictory yet somehow simultaneous ways. On one hand, we push them to grow up too fast, proud that they are reading before they are walking, pleased that they are taking college-level math in middle school. On the other hand, we keep them from really growing up at all, helicoptering in to solve all their problems well into young adulthood.

Is it possible that the answer lies, as most answers do, somewhere in the middle? Maybe if childhood was time to be, well, a child, the rest might sort itself into place?