Growing up faster…and less equipped?

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.

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17 Comments

Filed under classroom, kids/culture, student outcomes

17 responses to “Growing up faster…and less equipped?

  1. Brittany Storkel

    I agree that children are growing up very fast these days. Not only are they beginning to dress and act older, but they are also becomming more disrespectful at an earlier age and are being exposed to many things that are not appropriate for kids their age. I don’t think that we can stop them from growing up faster, but I do think we have a responsibility to the kids around us to help them grow up in a godly manner, even if it is a little faster than in years past. One of the most crucial things that we can do is to be a Godly example and show them how adults should act, and then perhaps, they will follow in your footsteps rather than the people on television and in magazines!

  2. Stacey Navis

    Children these days seem to be growing up and maturing faster than before. TV and media have a big part in their process of growing up. More and more concepts are being allowed to be shown on TV, allowing children exposure to adult concepts. Parents and teachers do have a responsibility to show the students the right way to live and to guide their worldview in the right direction, instead of the direction that the media is bringing them to. This can be done by modeling appropriate behavior and having open discussions about what should be expected of young adults. When students feel comfortable talking openly with their teachers or parents, they will be more willing to come to adults when they have questions about concepts they are learning on TV.

  3. Sean Lambert

    I agree that children are receiving negative messages from the media and popular culture. This seems to be particularly true for young girls. Society tells them they have to look and dress a certain way, even though these girls are very young. If you know anything about beauty pageants, you know that parents start grooming their daughters when they are in diapers. It is as if these girls are being forced to look like women when they really should not.
    What needs to happen is that parents need to take responsibility for what happens in their children’s lives. They must be able to explain to their daughters that the media has it wrong and they are worth a heck of a lot more than the labels society places upon them.

  4. Rebecca Schwartz

    Preserving youth can be done well by incorporating enjoyable fun activities that keep students active in the classroom. Our students whom are “growing up too fast” spend a large majority of their day in the classroom. Where are students really learning the behaviors that characterize grown up behavior? Peers also have a huge impact on students’ decisions and behaviors.
    Even college students can act goofy and childish when an improv skit is providing an example for a concept being taught during a lesson. Games and activities that allow students to take risks help them to take advantage of their youth. This will help keep our students from growing up too fast.
    Modeling appropriate behavior in the classroom will also assist students in building morals that will help combat the exposure that students are getting from the media. Modeling love for reading will possibly tempt a student to pick up a good book to read rather than the remote control.

  5. Christina Jones

    I agree with both Brittany & Stacey, like this article said children are growing up much faster. I remember when I was younger and I would play dress up with my friends pretending to be older and it was a lot of fun. But it seems now a days that children are not just wanting to play that actually want to be older and that is so sad to me. I am afraid that if children continue with this pattern that they will be grown up and wonder where their childhood went. We need to be a Christian example as adults becasue a lot of the time when children are acting older they are pretending to be a famous actress/actor. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but if the actress/actor doesn’t have good morals then it becomes bad. There is no way that we can hide the media from children or even stop them from wanting to be grown up, but we can be a positive role model and incorporate other positive role models, music, and influences into their lives to help them see that they have the rest of their lives to grow up, but not much time to be a kid.

  6. Lisa Uehara

    Children are growing up faster these days. I think that a big contribution to children wanting to grow up faster is through TV, magazines, etc. I think if parents cut down the usage of watching TV, monitoring what type of magazines their children are reading, and setting a good example on how to live a Christian life, this problem would get better. I think that by monitoring the TV, making children watch PG shows and movies a lot of the adult influence in these type of shows are positive. I would not let my child watch something like MTV. It is shows like that which makes a child want to grow up and act like they are grown up. Plus, I would not let my child read something like Cosmopolitan where the main topic of the magazine is something about sex. Monitoring your child and not exposing them to these types of bad examples but exposing them to good Christian examples will make a difference.

  7. Becky Wych

    It truly is undeniable that children are growing up faster. There are just so many things that have added to this trend. Anything from TV, Internet, music and movies have all been a strong influence on these children. It is so interesting to see that the developmental process of the body is also changing as the trend continues. We can’t stop biology but there are still plenty of ways that we can help. It is important for these children to be able to view and have positive role models that are living their lives for Christ. We must be there for the children to ask questions and teach them what the media may be telling them differently. The issues that are in the media need to be brought up and talked about with these children. Many children may not even be aware of what the media is trying to tell them instead we need to just confront the problems with them and be a light in their world, a positive place where they can turn as find answers based in Christian worldview.

  8. Sarah Gindville

    Being a teacher’s aid this semester has really opened my eyes to this issue. I was placed in a 7th grade science classroom and at 12 years old I was already experiencing attitude that I would have never expected. The disrespect some of these students have towards authority figures is crazy. I think that it is the parents job to censor their children in a world that they know is corrupt. The media really tends to make things worse exposing our youth so violence, sex, and a lot of unmoral activity. It tears apart everything parents try to instill in their children. Teachers are being put in bad situations at the same point. They can only do so much for the students because once they go home, things could change.

    It also has a huge impact on their out look on life. Children are very impressionable and they need to be around things that have moral values. Children should be dressing like children and teens should be dressing as respectable teens. Our view of beauty has been so distorted through the stream of media, that they instill unrealistic ideals into the minds of the young. I just think that someone has to try and take some control over it all. The parents need to start first to make a real impact.

  9. Caitlin Fillmore

    Growing up, I rarely had a chance to have dinner with my whole family during the week. Between sports, work, student council, dance and piano lessons, we just could not find that time to be together. What I love about my experience is that my parents always found a way to take that time to communicate with us. Maybe our special time was not around the dinner table, but that is fine because I still knew they were proud of me and it mattered that I stayed in school and out of trouble. It is possible for a family to sit around the table for every single meal and still not have those important conversations going on. Parents just need to take that time for their children, no matter where they are when they take it. Of course I want to someday eat meals at the table with my family, but I also know I want my children to have all the opportunities I had to get involved with extracurricular activities. I will, however, make sure that quality time is always spent with my family.

  10. Caitlin Fillmore

    Sorry about my last post. I copied and pasted the wrong paragraph. When I was young, my parents were fairly strict without sheltering us too much. I was not allowed to date until age seventeen, make-up was not an option until I was in high school, and I could not see most movies until they were viewed and approved by my parents. When I was dealing with these rules, they seemed completely unreasonable especially since none of my friends were really dealing with them at the same time. Now I look back on that time and realize the rules were created for my own good. I think it is a parent’s responsibility to keep their children young while still exposing them to enough of the world that they will not be completely shocked and run wild when they see everything that is out there. Parents need to know that their children are not mini adults. They should not be allowed to wear everything they see on TV and they should not be allowed to act in a way only people two times their age should act. I think the church needs to be on the forefront of reversing this accelerated aging movement. We need to preserve the innocence of our children for as long as is healthy to do so.

  11. Justin Varriale

    I think our society needs to change. Kids are growing up way too fast. Parents are letting their kids act like this. I think our entertainment is the leading cause of this besides lack of Christian education. As a parent would I let my junior high daughter out of the house with pounds of make up, or barely any cloths? NO! Would I let my children run wild without knowing where they are? NO! Would I allow my young children to have so called boyfriends and girlfriends? NO! It is becoming more common for seventh grade girls or high school girls to become pregnant. Our society should know what these kids are up to. Christian education would teach abstinence until marriage. Would I let my underage son or daughter drink alcohol? NO! If parents step in and help raise Christ like children we could be safe. I think it is disgusting how young children are acting today. I am only 21 years old and I have seen some bad children when I was at the age and now it is worse than that. Our culture and society is leading our youth to grow up the way we are seeing. I would not let my children glorify sex, drugs, and violence. I think moral and Christian education would help control the children growing up. I think our culture definitely needs an overhaul.

  12. Laura Bille

    I agree with a number of comments above. After being placed in a seventh grade classroom, it was very apparent how much faster kids are growing up now a days. They know and are exposed to things that I never did at that age, and also try to dress and act like they are older. I agree with Brittany’s statement when she says that we aren’t going to be able to stop them from growing up too fast, but it is our responsibility to help them grow in a Godly manner. Teachers and parents should be models for the children, showing them what a Christian worldview is all about. It is also our responsibility to try and limit what types of media our children are expose to at these ages.

  13. Joy VanDerBilt

    The content of this blog is very true, as a child care provider I see this a lot; my eight year old girls come to daycare dressed the same way that their 16 year old sisters dress. The parents do often find it cute but it worries me because if this is how they act and dress now when they are still quite young what kind of trouble are they going to get into when they are older. I agree with the blog in that parents, teachers, and any one else who is actively a part of a child’s life should take a stand and do what they can to protect their children from the things that cause them to dress and act in this way.

  14. Caitlyn LaReau

    I completely agree with everything said above. Children are growing up a lot faster today than i remember growing up when I was that age. Even walking through a store I notice 10 year olds wearing things their moms and older sisters are wearing. I don’t think this is necessarily bad, but if they are trying to dress like their moms and older sisters, I can only imagine that they are not acting like a normal 10 year old girl but instead like their older role models. It isn’t bad to have a younger child look up to you, but we have to remember that they are watching everything we do and sometimes copying our every move. For this reason, we need to watch everything we say and do so that these young children don’t grow up too fast.

  15. Jenna Rae Reidenga

    Unfortunately and sadly, it is true that children seem to be wise beyond their years in many aspects of life. From movies to TV shows to music children are bombarded with subjects way beyond their maturity level. This problem also can be seen in the home. Children cope with divorce, different types of abuse, etc. and are sometimes forced to act like adults because of the absence of a proper adult figure. I’ve worked at two different Day Cares for the past three years and I have also noticed this growing problem. Rather than having to fix their own dinners, get ready for bed on their own, worry about younger siblings, children should be able to act their age and be kids. Let the grown-ups be grown-ups and let the kids be kids. Both parents and teachers (and other important, influential adults) need to open their eyes and see their sons, daughters and students for who they really are: children who need loving, nurturing environments to grow up in, learn and play.

  16. Kevin O'Donovan

    Children these days can’t wait to grow up and act like adults especially if they have older siblings. They want to be just like them and emulate them in any way they can. With all the problems we face today in this world, children are somewhat forced to grow up faster and on their own than in the past. They have to be independent at the age of 13 it seems. These are the ages that kids need to have fun before they get into high school life. As the adults we have to be role models for the kids so they know how to act correctly.

  17. meagan

    i am only 15 and I totally agree that kids are growing up faster these days my cousins five year old daughter got an ipod for her 5th birthday and a cell phone for Christmas and that’s just ridiculous kids can be very sneaky by texting. but at 15 im in a medical program at my school and we started working at the hospital and they just throw you in like her go wash this person and it could be traumatizing the seconded week their a pt came into the er and they asked me to use a bag that covers there nose and mouth and helps them breathing i ended up saying no because i had not a clue what to do but the pt died and its very scary. also there are so many teens having babies and not being able to complete school i know two girls who i went to middle school are 15 and 14 and already had there first child! kids today curse so much and are so disrespectful lastly in 9th grade my first week i heard so many people talking about being high and using drugs it was ridiculous i over heard a girl who tried to by xanax but got ripped off
    high school is crazzy and so stressful~

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