There’s something visceral about our need to understand the world. And as children, we absorb our data and form our early opinions based on what we’re exposed to in our home environments. With this in mind, it is imperative that as forward-thinking parents, we streamline our kids’ repertoire of media sources and lead by example.
Lisa Bloom’s riveting book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, has forever changed the landscape of my personal approach to parenting. Although I personally never allowed myself to get sucked into the giant vortex of trashy reality shows and pseudo-celebrity culture and news, many adults and kids are indeed brainwashed into thinking that what they read in gossip magazines and hear on cable where sensationalism and celebrity-hype reign, qualifies as “news.” “Garbage in, garbage out,” Ms. Bloom recites throughout her book.
And because the television stations care about one thing and one thing only, they’ll continue to spin stories related to the latest pop star love triangle, drug arrest or celebrity divorce scandal as long as it bolsters the ratings, and translates into more advertising dollars.
So what can we do to keep our children and ourselves insulated from involuntarily joining the ranks of the comfortably numb non-thinkers?
As parents, we must think outside the box, and make that extra effort to facilitate our kids’ access to reputable and reliable media outlets. The renowned publication, National Geographic, is an indisputable timeless treasure. It depicts real-life events all over globe, and it’s informative editorials and captivating photography stimulates even the least inquisitive of minds. It’s an investment nonetheless, in the nourishment of our kids’ brains, as well as in our own.
In order for our children to learn about the sobering and awe-inspiring realities of the world, we must give them befitting tools to find out about it. Documentaries about the hazards of natural gas drilling, or the senseless hunting and slaughter of dolphins near Taijii, Japan, or the inspiring stories about the sometimes-forgotten selfless people that risked their own lives to save European Jews from Nazi gas chambers all create awareness about the world---past, present and future. Such awareness enriches the mind.
Taking kids out of their comfort zone, to foreign soil, enables them to look into a kaleidoscope of cultures and how each lives. They’ll observe how animals are treated, governments exert power, witness the aftermath of natural disasters, effects of deforestation and so on. As a result, they'll learn about themselves, and what intrigues and impassions them. Life experiences like these keep us thinking, questioning, and hungry for more (knowledge.)
By exposing ourselves and our children to the mind-blowing footage of said documentaries, well-reputed publications, or unpretentious traveling, we help secure their futures as inquiring minds. There are so many causes to get involved in and I continue to explore together with my own kids.
As we become more educated, we’ll figure out where we best fit in. Hopefully, as our kids grow into responsible, free-thinking young adults, they’ll devote their energies to the betterment of the world.
...for themselves and for our future grandchildren and great-grandchildren.