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Then and now, kids need pop culture boundaries

Young kids in my neighborhood seem like mini replicas of their own moms and dads.

Like my own parents, I have become that adult who says, "I remember when you were this high" to children who politely endure the scrutiny while obviously more concerned about the arrival of their next text message.

Despite the world that technology exposes kids to today, my 1970s era childhood seems more idyllic because I did not have to grow up too fast.

Parents seemed to have so much more control over the lives of their children in the past.

For example, I vividly recall being in the middle of my most passionate pickup line when the receiver on the other end had the echo of my mother's voice telling me to "say goodnight to that little girl" because she needed the phone.

I'm still embarrassed by that one.

No child today has to endure that when they have their own cellphones.

Quite frankly, I recognize that every generation of parents believes its era has lost its innocence, granting children far too many freedoms.

However, as a historian, I resist the temptation that many parents have fallen into regarding the rearing of children in the 21st century, particularly in the wake of highly disturbing behavior by today's purveyors of popular culture.

It's no worse than days gone by. Blues lyrics from the 1920s were full of heterosexual and homosexual themes. Jazz that my parents listened to in college in the late 1940s was frowned upon in the 1920s for being too lowbrow.

I recall socially conscious music of the '90s like Public Enemy's 911 Is A Joke, which highlighted slow response times in poor urban neighborhoods.

Juxtaposed to rappers today like Kendrick Lamar and his Swimming Pools Full of Liquor, we apparently have gone astray.

Or have we?

In my freshman year of college in 1983, I hopped around on an imaginary horse and danced the night away in the Grand Ball Room at Florida A&M University to a tune called White Horse. At the time, I had no idea that it was about cocaine.

Children today are exposed to life faster because of technology, but that is why it is imperative for parents to establish boundaries and be the role models that your children will emulate.

Parents should limit how much kids use electronic devices. No cellphones or electronic devices during dinner.

In other words, create quality time to spend with your kids. Children may complain, but the benefits will far outweigh the temporary inconvenience. This will be necessary for generations to come.

Keith Berry is a married father of two and a history professor at Hillsborough Community College.

Then and now, kids need pop culture boundaries 12/17/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 1:05pm]
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