Influencing Children

Yesterday I covered the culture of fear that has been created by politics and the news media and how that affects parenting and the brain development of children. Today we’ll talk about how social media and advertising combine to create an entirely new set of forces that are 608 Relax and Succeed - You decide who you areshaping your children’s minds in ways that have never been seen before. Some of it is exciting and awesome. Some of it is troubling and dangerous.

Again, it’s important to remember how different the world is than just a short time ago. A surfable smartphone didn’t exist until 1996 but due to capability and production limits they weren’t really in our consciousness until about 2001. Facebook was created in 2004, and Twitter in 2006 (even Google was just getting started in 1998), so at the time of this writing none of the people who’ve grown up with these influences are even adults yet so researchers can’t study the effects.

I heard a stat the other day that either this year or last year, 90% of the photos taken in history had been taken that year. That is a huge indicator of how incredibly important cameras have become. I have maybe 50 photos in total of me from a baby to age 25. Some friends whose parents were more technically motivated used cameras more often and they would have more, but it was expensive processing pictures back then very few people went crazy. But the fact that 90% of photos were taken last year shows how insanely different the numbers are today. A child will have more photos taken of them in a month than they would have had in a lifetime. And so that lens—that eye—becomes one of the eyes they understand they should pay attention to.

How this plays out is that if you’re talking to someone and you hold your camera up to take a photo, they’re quite likely to mug for you, or give you their best angle. So just the very appearance of a camera changes the social setting and people interrupt their human conversation for a machine-based ego-focused interaction. We all see this with text messages 608 Relax and Succeed - The most precious giftwhen we’re having lunch with a friend as well. It’s now common for people to not look at or pay attention to their tablemates for large percentages of their time at the table.

What this does is get the kids who are watching believing that phones are more important than people because that is exactly the behaviour everyone is actually modelling. So what I’m seeing now is kids who will choose to look at a camera lens or cell phone screen instead of looking at the people they’re with. So rather than learning how to socialize and read facial and body language cues, instead they learn how to look down and spend time in a place that exists only in their imagination—a place called cyberspace.

It’s very important for parents to remember that we all live where our consciousness is. So if you’re sitting on a beautiful beach alone thinking about how 10 years ago you were on this beach with a love you have since lost—despite all of the pleasures available on the beach today, the person will be sad because in their consciousness they are reliving 5 years ago and comparing it to today.

608 Relax and Succeed - We are living in a worldThe same is true for kids except they travel less in time and more in space. I walked to school with all of my neighbourhood friends. Kids today primarily get driven or take the bus so they can have friends that live two buses away. So they might be physically at home because their parents never let them go anywhere without some detailed plan, but in reality they’re meeting their friends in cyberspace. The important part about that is that if your kid can always meet their friends in cyberspace then, in a way, it’s like their friends are present for every single thing that happens in your house. Technology has changed society much more than people currently recognize.

Privacy for all intents and purposes no longer exists. By 16 every kid knows your email can be hacked, friends can choose to share photos they were never supposed to share, there’s revenge porn sites and robots are crawling through everything you write and post in an attempt to understand you well enough to help advertisers sell to you when you’re most vulnerable. There’s even video and audio systems that detect crying so that they can respond. Do we really want robots responding to crying?

I’m hardly anti-technology. I was the first person I knew with a digital watch, the first with a programmable calculator and both a video recorder and a video camera. I was the second person I knew to get a computer and I started a large BBS system before the internet even existed. So I’m pro-technology in many ways. But with all things we must weigh the advantages against the costs. And the costs of social media are almost as high as the costs of advertising.

608 Relax and Succeed - If you find yourself constantly tryingSo where politics and the news media lead new citizens to be unnecessarily afraid, advertising leads them to be insecure. Secure people don’t need a product to fix their insecurity. So when I was young everyone thought teeth should be teeth-coloured and so no one would have put harmful chemicals in our mouths to whiten them. But today kids will feel stressed if their teeth aren’t unnaturally white. Go backwards and my mother never knew mouthwash until she was older. And her mother never even knew tooth-brushing or that breath should smell “fresh” until she was ten years old because advertising had not created that insecurity yet. The entire tooth-brushing fresh breath movement emerged out of advertisers testing the idea of whether or not a fear could be created and leveraged into a product. Obviously it worked and now every kid has a huge list of things to feel insecure about.

Advertisers need you to think the jeans you bought last year aren’t good enough for this year. Same with your hair style and your shoes and your purse and your car. There is always a new way to be acceptable or impressive to others. There’s always something new to buy. But do you see what this is telling the brain? The brain is being told that the person is not okay being who they are they must be someone else in order to be accepted, which in other terms means that the love they receive is conditional. It is based on their alignment with what advertisers have deemed acceptable rather than being loved just for who you are right from birth. The idea that you have to add to or change yourself before you are worthy is as unfortunate as it is dangerous.

608 Relax and Succeed - If a mother values herselfYou don’t need different jeans or a different hair colour. You don’t need different music or to like different movies. You just need to love yourself. Because you’re parenting when you’re living. Just like those kids watch smart phone screens because you do, they also worry about their hair and weight because you do. So if you really want to parent in an amazing way that will strengthen and support your kids to be all they can be, then stop worrying about the bad things that might happen or the judgments they might face, and instead focus on realizing the natural greatness that lives within yourself, because that will teach your children to look for that strength and capability within themselves. And that’s all they need to do. Because it’s always there waiting.

Your kids live in a sea of other people telling them who they should be. Be the one person who stands out for not telling them who it would be good or positive or healthy to become, and instead just ask them who they would most like to become and then help them do that. Because if Michelangelo’s father had had his way his son would have been a bricklayer and we wouldn’t have the incredible Statue of David. So don’t get in the way of your kid’s David. Don’t help frighten them into being small and worried. The world is too awesome for that and it will only be made more awesome by the contributions of you and your children.

Thank you.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #45

551 Relax and Succeed - Sending love wherever it is needed

This week we talked about concrete things that you can do to change your life for the better, about how to parent or teach young people, and we also talked about Remembrance Day/Veterans Day. We’ll start off this week’s Dose with a nice way to end the week: an actual list of practices that all apply to things I write about here. You can thank the folks at InfoBarrel for putting this together:

22 Habits of Unhappy People

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When I wrote about teaching and learning, my point was that telling people what to do is meaningless if that contradicts what you yourself do. But if you are leading by example, then no words at all are necessary and you will still achieve success. Even this dog, having seen a jolly jumper before, knows how it works. And it also knows that things learn from experience and example. And so the dog gives the baby an example. It really is a brilliant lesson in how we learn, and that can be profound if the idea is seriously considered. But do that after you watch the dog being brilliant:

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The reason there was a re-blog on Tuesday was because I was proudly watching my father march in my city’s Remembrance Day parade. When I was 18 I was going to beaches and playing video games with my friends. At 18 my father and uncles were in a very very important war. It’s impossible for us to understand that experience today, but we can gain insights into its poignancy via works of art. Canadian guitarist Bryan Adams is also an accomplished photographer and he’s recently completed a series of photographs of veterans. It’s a side of the soldier that too often gets forgotten. Lest we forget.

Wounded: The Legacy of War, by Bryan Adams

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Feel gratitude in your life, invest your time in realizing yourself in an authentic manner, teach by example, and always respect the struggles of others as you would like them to respect yours. Pain is pain. Which direction it comes from is irrelevant. So be kind out there. Big hugs.

peace. s

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The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Focus on these and change your mind. Enjoy.

Seeing As We Are

193 Relax and Succeed - The most difficult subjectsLook at how your thoughts, your guesses, and your assumptions will subtly fill in, add, subtract, multiply and even change your sense of what’s going on in these photos. Look at one, make up your mind about who they are, then look at it again and imagine them as other people. Especially do things like turn them from a jerk into a friend.

You’ll be surprised at how different the photo can appear when you change your mind.

Our own experiences will create various awarenesses. This understanding is a form of connection between ourselves and others. But if we live as though our guesses are truths, then our ego will lead us into trouble. It’s important to remember you’re making those interpretations all day long, so make them generously and compassionately. Keep them flexible too, because they’ll often be wrong. If you’re unsure as to the value of this exercise, just wait until the next time someone misunderstands you. 193 Relax and Succeed - the peaceful heartNow try it out. Change your thoughts, change the photos. Make them into different people. Trust me, you’re good at it. You do it all day long, including to and about yourself. And it’s good to always remember that everyone we talk to sees us differently. 😉

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Here’s the link:

http://petapixel.com/2013/07/30/portraits-of-complete-strangers-touching-each-other/