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Teen Like It Big

How do we engage people, especially teens, in solutions and action about #waterrisks and #climatechange, some of the most critical issues we face? Some teens recently shared their thoughts with me on this - and it's old-school, and also semi-revolutionary.

teen like it big

Many people find it overwhelming and many would rather not think about the huge issues humanity faces - the problems are quite daunting and people feel alone in their "isolated" actions. What happens when we bring those isolated people and actions together? And what if they're teens?

I facilitate #teen #waterleaders in a newly formed group #WaterSolutionaries, across the N. American #GreatLakes and #AfricanGreatLakes, so I asked them about what's works for them when it comes to solving huge world problems. They told me that our "peer-to-peer" conversations are a #gamechanger for them. One teen said that social media is continuous scrolling without a real opportunity to make change happen. But talking to other people, that makes it real.

Hold on. Conversations with actual humans? Yes. Not #instagram or #tiktok #socialmedia videos and motion graphics, but conversations with other teens working on similar and sometimes very different water solutions. At our meetings, we share stories about what they're working on or want ideas and support for. And these teens are interested in solving BIG problems in their communities, like pollution, sanitation, access. So it's not light chitchat.

Where I see strong energy in the discussions is when they share their ideas with each other and offer peer support and accountability. They see issues differently through each other's eyes. Things that seemed far off suddenly take on more urgency when they impact someone you care about. They make connections. And they come back week after week to check in with each other and offer ideas and support. It's a conversation, and it's about relationships. It sounds simple, but in some ways it's revolutionary. And it's one of the elements that that's making a difference in teen #waterleadership.

Now how do we scale peer-to-peer teen conversations enough to help solve what's ahead? We need everyone for #cleanwaterforall - especially teens who will inhabit this planet far into the future.

The video's from one of our most popular reports ever, The Merchants of Cool, which, in part, looked at media corporations' marketing of sex to teens in order to hook the youth consumer. Remember those eye-grabbing sex scenes that first surfaced in the 1990s on cable channels like MTV and the WB Network? They launched a seemingly 24-hour sex cycle of movies and shows like "Cruel Intentions," "Dawson's Creek" and "Beverly Hills 90210."

I find it ironic that the Murdoch empire, the media choice of the "Conservative Christian Republicans" is the very network most guilty of packaging and selling shows promoting teenage sex, promiscuity, under age drinking and glorifying prison escapees. Hipocracy for profit...

As for this video, it is the standard blame the media pitch. It's not the parent's fault for not knowing what their child is watching on their TV or PC in a locked bedroom, or for allowing them to have a TV or PC in their bedroom at all. It isn't the parent's fault that their child is allowed to date or hang out alone with the opposite sex at 13 or 14 years old. It isn't the parents fault that they don't have an honest conversation with their kids about safe sex, pregnancy, and STDs. We should just blame everyone else like Dawson's Creek...which by the way is about the most mild teen soap to ever be on the air. I can hardly believe this video even used it as an example.

This false idea that there is more teenagers who are having sex now than in the 80's or even the 60's is ridiculous. The only difference is now kids aren't embarassed to admit it, and more of them are dumb enough to get pregnant.

M-O-N-E-Y It really is all about the money. I'm from the Boston area and early 30's. MTV, Beverly Hills 90210, Dawson's Creek, etc. was targeted to me in the same way that Gossip Girl and the other programs today are targeted to teenagers. Talking to my nephew and nieces is shocking. They talk about sleeping around and dressing "dirty" like it's nothing. I almost jump out to say something but realize I'm not THAT much older and I don't want to be that old guy I remember who didn't "get" what we were doing in 1990. Kids follow very closely what happens on TV. The advertisers know it and they can make money selling to them. End of story.

I think more kids are having sex and parenting is at an all time low. Kids are raised by TV and the internet. There were girls this last weekend who were no older than 13 but were dressed like the girls from my days in school who "put out". I wonder how this will turn out. I can't imagine it getting any more out of control but that's probably what the generation ahead of mine said.

One of the questions asked was does the media reflect teen culture or does teen culture reflect the media? What do you think? Kids are told how to play, how to share, how to act, how to say please and thank you, how to dress, how to behave, how to think, how to eat, how to brush their teeth, how to study, how to work, what to believe in, how to drive, how to mannage their lives, how to wipe their butts, how to do EVERYTHING their whole lives until they reach adulthood. They need permission to do many of the things that they do in their lives. Now you tell me. Does the media reflect teen culture? OR does it give teens permission to do ALL those things that they have wondered about. Sex and teen hormones, which can get the best of all of us regardless of age, is EXACTLY the very thing that teens are most intrieged by. It's not just sex but the root of sex which is relationship. How to become a person of substance and develope good relationships with other people. Something we ALL need to work on throughout our entire lives it doesn't come in the first 18 years nor the first 60 it is a lifetime endevour. If you don't believe this then why do you think there are bad relationships between people, countries whatever, all over the world. Relationships between people is a natural draw, but sex is the epitomy of relationship expression. It has with it the most dynamic of payoffs (children, why we are all here) and the biggest reprocussions either emotional or physical. Media addresses only the gratification part and gives lip service if anything at all in regards to the complex evolution of relationship building between two people. People have sex. Teens want to experiment with everything, all children do weather its building blocks, dolls or intercource. The media gives them the permission they need to do so, without any guidance whatsoever!

Watching this makes me ill. There is enough blame to go around. Doesn't anybody care. Are parents so wrapped up in themselves? Is television so desperate for money and ratings? Deep down I know the answer is yes, but I am so repulsed by that fact. Yes, kids will engage in sex, but distributing soft-core porn disguised as entertainment, disguised as information is truely repugnant. The children in those clips behaved as though they were making a pornographic teaser. No thirteen year old boy or girl should be behaving this way. It was also clear they were to young to understand the implications of their actions. Where are all the parents?

I live in the "OC" Orange County, California and raised my son and daughter, now in their early 20's, in the epicenter of the "Scene" complete with the full media onslaught dripping with sex and drugs. Only through relentless parenting that included up-front, factual sex education starting in middle school were we able to guide our teens through this craziness. I first showed them photos of what sexually transmitted diseases actually look like, discussed how disease and pregnancy would wreck their lives, set strict limits on curfew, demanded information on where they went and with whom and if a parent was present in-home at parties, showed up at times to make sure my kids were actually where they said they should be, made sure they worked part-time jobs to help pay for their expenses, never gave them a car for immediate use - they had to ask to borrow mine - in other words, being the most UNCOOL parent there ever was!

However, I also kept a case of condoms in the home for their use, made sure my daughter was under the care of a gynecologist (she was allowed to make appointments on-demand without having to discuss her reasons if she did not wish to), was vaccinated with Gardisil, and allowed for OPEN discussions about sex without judgment from my husband and I. As parents, we knew that sex would happen before marriage and made sure our teens knew all the reasons why not to have sex but also how to act responsibly when the time came.I saw way too many parents with teens hand over cars, with gas and insurance, not know where they went and with whom, and actually held parties complete with alcohol and weed! (They would get it anyway!) These are the clueless teens who are ill equipped to handle total freedom when they need rules, boundaries, and limitations on behavior and then experience the consequences unacceptable behavior the most! It was the easy way out for these parents because our way was the hardest way - raising teens is the worst because of the battle of wills it brings. Parents have to go the distance especially when teens are nasty, irrational, impatient, yell, scream, are sleep deprived, and beg for freedom. Parents have the tools to overcome the "media" but don't exercise control measures because it's HARD WORK to do so.

I agree with JRC's comment. I think these days, the failure begins at home. Without education, "common sense" wisdom and effective parenting, our nation's children will be disadvantaged from the start against nefarious external influences. Teenagers will be teenagers, it is foolish to believe that abstinence prevails. It goes against the biological motivator of the human being at that stage in life. 041b061a72


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