Yesterday, Verizon launched a new cell-phone service that will chaperone your kids (and alert you if they wander beyond a perimeter that you set for them, writes Poynter's Al Tompkins....
Meanwhile, the Boston Globe ast week ran a piece about how state and national ruling bodies for youth soccer leagues have recommended that scores and standings not be kept in under-10 leagues, saying it's best not to track "winners" and "losers." And where I live, in Massachusetts, legislators are pushing to raise the driving age to 17 ½.
In my mind, all of these unrelated initiatives are actually linked to our need to (at best) protect our kids and (at worst) infantilize them. Sometimes I wonder .... about my own two kids and their friends and the generation at large .... are we doing them any favors? Is all of this supervision and control helping them grow up? Or is it really keeping them young?
My own two kids, ages 9 and 14, have little of the freedom I did at their age. Their afternoons are tightly choreographed with lessons and tutoring and practices; their weekends are jammed with supervised play times, games and more lessons. The older one has a cell phone, and on those free afternoons when he is on his own, he must check in with me when, for example, he walks from the park to Sean's house. If he does that, Sean's mother must be home, because I will ask him to hand the phone to her.
Occasionally I compare this to my own 14-year-old self: when I was his age, I had a lot more freedom (and flat-out free time). I'd already made some teenage mistakes and learned from them; I'd already experienced a few things in life that I'm certain my son hasn't. Nothing anything truly serious, but enough to raise the hairs on the back of my neck.
With access to the Internet and technology, my son may be more sophisticated than I was at his age. But frankly, I was wiser.
Which is frustrating for a parent to realize, and it makes me wonder about the ripple effects of our supervised playtimes and cell-phone leashes. It also makes me wonder what the downside is to a culture increasingly skewed toward staying younger longer.
Sure, 40 is the new 30. But is 18 the new 8?