Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, April 22, 2010

Larger than Life

By Musarrat Rahman

School going children are exposed to a lot more today. Be it the curiosity to watch adult entertainment, tasting and enjoying the ecstasy of forbidden stuffs - modern school kids, even elementary kids, are living life in the fast lane, unaware of the speed breakers that lie ahead. Are the children being exposed to a reckless lifestyle? Are parents too busy to keep a check on their children? Are our youngsters losing their innocence too fast?

The world on their shoulders
Schools play a big role in forcing a child to grow up too fast and tackle things they shouldn't have to for another couple of years. Have you seen the amount of homework/schoolwork they heap on kids nowadays? Someone as young as eight has classes from 8 a.m. in the morning to 2 a.m.! Sometimes they have extra classes that go till 2:30. Some of them even have private tutors or go to coaching to keep up with the work!

And what about those gigantic schoolbags they have to carry with them everyday, loaded with a bajillion books and copies. You'll find some kids staggering under the weight of their schoolbags almost bigger than themselves. What the heck are these schools doing?

Get techy
Then there's the great 'advancing world of technology': more is more these days; faster Internet, faster downloads, better cell phones, more privileges, more gadgets.

What do you expect an 8-year-old kid to worry about? Certainly not boys, makeup, gadgets and clothes! That stuff is for teens. Aren't little kids supposed to be playing with their cars, trading their Pokemon cards and having their Barbie-Ken weddings? But children nowadays have way more 'important' things to worry about, apparently. Just being a kid is now a thing of the past.

When we were kids which, might I remind you, wasn't too long ago the world was our kingdom and imagination its key. Yeah, we had television and GameBoy's and computers but we never spent all our time on it. For the most part, we were just sent outside and left to fend for ourselves. We made up all kinds of games, using whatever we had on hand bikes, balls, jump rope, etc. We talked and talked until we were blue in the face; we wrote notes, played cards, told fortunes.

We certainly did more than sit in front of a television all day with our eyes glued to the screen, scanning through age-inappropriate channels or playing video games. We definitely didn't sit in front of a computer all day, watching random YouTube clips until our eyes were bloodshot and our fingers were numb.

Kids are too caught up in their world of technology to be self-motivated anymore. They don't know how to entertain themselves, by themselves. The minute their parents turn off the television or shut down the computer or confiscate their phones and iPods, it's all 'I'm bored' and 'I don't know what to do.'

Get up and move! Stimulate your brain! Use it so you won't lose it!

Stop callin', stop callin'; I don't wanna think anymore!
Well, apparently, kids today, I'm talking 10-year-olds, have convinced their parents that they desperately need cell phone's. And not just any cell phones! Nope, the little darlings require unlimited texting, internet access, mp3 downloading capabilities and more. With today's cell phones, kids have all that at their fingertips. They're so overwhelmed with links to the outside world that they can't even decide what to expose themselves to first!

Knowledge is powerful, especially when it's being absorbed by the mind of an elementary school kid or a tween…uncut, uncensored.

With all this technology at a the hands of a child that doesn't know better, things like cyber-bullying etc are on the rise at an alarming rate. Now this is a problem faced primarily by tweens (the 11-13 age group) but the younger kids are getting in on some of that action too. It just proves that granting kids free access to too much information at once can be harmful.

If they can't process the information and handle it responsibly, they shouldn't be accessing it in the first place.

Not a girl, not yet a woman
Why does an 8-year-old need adult-style innerwear? What fresh hell is this? Clothing stores are coming out with new and outrageous ways to make little girls into women. They now have swimsuits, high heels, make up FOR KIDS!

Celebrity children like Suri Cruise, who's only 3, is always wearing high heels. They're pink and sparkly and absolutely adorable, but they aren't good for a growing child. Not only are they dangerous, they are not good for their feet. Foot strain can affect the ankles and the knees and everything upward, girls can lose their balance, twisting ankles, or risking falls. Even doctors have stated that wearing heels at such a young age can damage the heel cords leading to other problems.

But, as mentioned above, that's the least of the problem. Recently, a major British clothing retailer withdrew padded swim suits from their collection, which was aimed at 7-year-old. Yep, that's an ingenious idea. Put your little girl in that and forget molesters exist!

Girls nowadays, some as young as 5 or 6, are getting their nails, hair, eyebrows done. Some are even getting waxed!

Oh yes, it happens. It happens even in Bangladesh.

They have children beauty pageants where toddlers, kids aged younger than 5, are forced to put on teeny tiny pageant outfits and swimwear, and parade around with an inch of makeup and huge hair to win trophy's.

Ok, that doesn't happen in Dhaka yet, but hey, it's only a matter of time isn't it?

Let's talk about…
Ostriches stuff their heads into holes and think that if they can't see what is happening then no one else can see them; Parents are somewhat similar. They think if they stuff their head into the black hole of denial, it's probably not true. Wouldn't it be great if the world worked like that?

The strangest thing is that parents are hell bent on sheltering kids from the things they should be aware of. Nobody talks about how to protect themselves from predators after little children, it's basically a taboo topic, but the reality is that these predators are amongst us. Wouldn't it be better if you talk to the children about how to protect themselves during dangerous situations?

It's important for parents AND children to really recognise how valuable their youth is. Haven't any of them ever watched Peter Pan? Growing up is inevitable, so you have to savour your youth. Blink your eyes and it's over.



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