In an online article on MSNBC entitled, “For kids, is 10 the new 15?” there are many examples given of how typical teen behavior is now being seen in those in the “tween” years – kids who are in the 8-12 age range. Not only have the behavior patterns changed, there are several studies published in recent years that indicate that children’s bodies are developing earlier – for example the average age of girls starting menstruation, and breast development limits as low as first and second grade.
Access to media seems to accelerate the problem with more children being aware of, and seeking to emulate the “grown-up” dress, behavior, and values of teens and young adults on the Internet, TV, movies, music, print, etc. When parents fail to set limits the problem becomes exacerbated. Some parents may even encourage the concept of growing up faster and think that this behavior of their kids is “cute.”
At the same time children are still in the formative stages of worldview development. The type of thinking needed, thinking that enables youth to make the big picture connections and put things in their proper perspective, is just developing and significantly impacted by the daily barrage of media and materialism. How much should children be sheltered and how much exposure is needed to help them form accurate perspectives and a Christian worldview that does not shrink from, but is ready to respond to, and engage in, the world fully? I do know that before my wife and I had children we were more free thinking in terms of exposure levels than what actually happened after we had children. Today’s parents, pastors, and teachers seem to face an even greater challenge with kids growing up faster.