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A son, his folks, and a new era page 2
Time for middle school, and what a can of worms that could be

RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 8/20/2006

By RICHARD AMRHINE

continued

Experts point to a "vast majority" of young people who act responsibly, who don't engage in dangerous or destructive behavior, and who as a result hang below the media's radar. They are non-squeaky wheels who help keep their generation rolling along.

I expect that my son will have new and extensive reports from his classmates about the video games they are playing and the music they are listening to. (Are tales of drug and alcohol use soon to follow?)

Because we have told him again and again that he can talk to us about absolutely anything that's on his mind, he has been passing this information along, and also interrogates us about why he isn't familiar with some of the things everybody else does and how he feels left out.

The answer to that is pretty simple: As long as we can prevent him from trashing up his mind with nasty video games or song lyrics that have harmful sexual overtones or references to gratuitous violence, we are going to do just that. Besides, there are too many positive choices to make, whether its playing sports, playing his saxophone, reading, or enjoying any of the music and movies out there that are perfectly fine.

The harder part to explain has to do with "everybody else." Of course it isn't really everybody else, but merely the generalization an 11-year-old uses to make his point.

Some of what he hears may be empty bravado. But we can assume from what he's told us that plenty of kids his age can pretty much do, see, or hear anything they choose to. Maybe some have older siblings or extended-family members who have introduced them to this stuff, making it difficult for their parents to combat.

On the other hand, maybe their parents are the enablers--reconciling a laissez faire attitude with the belief that their kids will get this stuff elsewhere anyway. Are these the parents who bring their young kids along to see R-rated movies?

We've been selective about our son's exposure to music and movies, and video games are limited to the educational variety, or those that are otherwise good, clean fun. He got an iPod last Christmas and has loaded it up with his favorite songs. But I know the songs he's downloading, and he agrees to avoid anything labeled "explicit," though he continues to ask why.


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