Friday, January 11, 2013

Teaching children the difference between fantasy and reality is parents' responsibility

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

What was the best thing that happened to your child in school last week?

Did your child have homework or personal problems that cropped up during the week?

Do you know the answers to these questions, or — do you just think that you know the answers?

As the debate about violence and gun control simmers, I think that it is time to look at the real reason for many of the violent crimes taking place in today's world.

We live in a country where everything is a fantasy. Television programing is filled with so-called "reality" shows. These programs are, in actuality, carefully choreographed programing that incites conflict and strife between friends, co-workers and even family members ... all in the name of entertainment.

I don't know where to begin with the zombie and vampire shows.

Sure, some of you are saying that I am old and out of touch with what people enjoy watching today. The truth is, there were lessons to be learned from television in the bygone era.

Programs such as Lassie, Flipper, My Three Sons and the Brady Bunch were not only entertaining, but had a lesson attached in nearly every episode. Even programs that included gun play had a very simple message — if you break the law, you pay the consequences. I don't recall ever watching Matt Dillon pull the trigger on someone who did not deserve it.

Today, when our kids watch television, they tune into programs filled with walking dead zombies who need to be killed off. The only lesson there is to kill everything in your path, just in case someone might be a zombie.

Then, of course, we have video games. It seems to me that all of them feature nothing but killing and gore. Kids, and a number of adults, say they are fun. I'm sure that they are.

The problem, as I see it, is that that we have succeeded in totally desensitizing entire generations of children, many of whom are now young adults. There is killing, blood, guts and gore everywhere. But, there are never any consequences.

I am not blaming television. I am not blaming video games. The interest in the current trend in both just shows how sick our society has become.

Our children have no sense of value. I see it every day. They do not respect others. They do not respect themselves.

One of the reasons for this is that they spend too much time in front of a computer screen or television set. We have a generation of Americans who has lost nearly all of their social skills. This is evolution?

Oh, the reason that I don't blame television and video games is the same reason that I do not blame guns. That Nintendo set did not reach out, grab your kid, chain him to a chair and say, "No supper for you until you kill 500 people, good guys, bad guys, it doesn't matter, and score a billion points." No!

More than likely, the kid is sitting there while mom and/or dad use the game as a baby sitter to keep the kid out of their hair.

It is a parent's responsibility to know what their child is doing. I know that is difficult. I look back on raising our own children and see things that I could have done, should have done, that would have made me a better parent.

I know that no matter how good a job we attempt to do as parents, nothing can ever guarantee that life will be peaches and cream for our children.

What we can do, what we must do, is balance the time spent killing zombies with family time and explain to our children the difference between fantasy and reality. Talk to your kids!

The first order of responsibility in teaching our children is not our school teachers. They play an important part, certainly. We, as parents, must always be vigilant in teaching our children morals, values and the difference between right and wrong.

The life you save, may be your child's.

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