just a little talking back

 I just finished reading this book. For those of you interested, you can check it out at here:  http://meadvillelibrary.org/.

Ryan laughed at me last night as I chattered excitedly about this book. “Wow,” he said, pausing mid-chord on his guitar, “You sure have a lot to say about this book.” We laughed and I said, “Listen to this.” completely undeterred.

Overall, I appreciated Talking Back to Facebook, a lot. I found it a well-written, straightforward informational guide on the perks and perils of social media written from an educated, secular point of view. James P. Steyer is a father of three teenagers who genuinely seems to care about how the next generation deals with the technological inundation of the twenty-first century. I appreciate and can commend his willingness to take a more controversial stance on social media. I recommend Talking Back to Facebook for the mature and grounded, eighteen and older. Talking Back to Facebook is not unnecessarily explicit, but Steyer does not mince words either.

A few quotes from Talking Back to Facebook and a few of my own  thoughts, in conclusion…

It’s called age compression. Marketers use this term to describe how kids at increasingly younger ages are modeling behavior that older children once did. Indeed some of the fashion items and toys that were once deemed appropriate for teens are increasingly clear in the lives of preteens and occasionally even preschoolers. Lately we’ve see some outrageous examples where the fashion industry is encouraging little girls to dress up as sexy adults. This form of “age compression” is particularly disturbing to child development experts when it takes on sexual connotations. Increasingly, younger children are modeling adult like sexual behavior without having anywhere near the intellectual or emotional capacity to understand what they are actually saying or doing. Needless to say, psychologists and many parents worry about the impact in both the short and long-term.” (page 68, James P. Steyer)

“In one 2009 study, nearly half of all three-to-six-year-old girls said they were worried about getting fat.” (page 126, James P. Steyer (Study originally published in Sharon Hayes and Stacey Tantkeff-Dunn’s, “Am I Too Fat to Be a Princess?” published in the British Journal of Developmental Pyschology 28, no. 2 (2010): 413-26)

Let’s not live in ignorance. While anorexia and self-image issues used to primarily inflict preteens, teenagers and young adults, the issue is becoming more and more rampant in girls down to preschool age. The question we must ask ourselves, How can we combat this reality with our own young girls? I suggest that it starts within ourselves — and our own personal outlook. Most children learn primarily by example. What kind of worldview, outlook, and perspective are we transmitting to them by how we live? Our focus will become theirs.

  “…a relatively small but extremely profitable segment of the video game industry has fed millions of kids and teens a steady diet of increasingly graphic ad often repulsive violence. Women are portrayed as hookers ………………, and characters are shot, maimed, and decapitated in ever more graphic, lifelike depictions. When my colleagues at Common Sense create video montages of some of the more graphic violent video games for public hearings or legal and legislative efforts, I literally cannot watch some of the stuff. It’s simply too gruesome. Moreover, because it is interactive, gamers personally and repeatedly engage in these repulsive actions on their gaming devices,  but that’s simply the norm for video games with ultra-violent and sexually violent content.” (page 71, James P. Steyer)

I had to edit this quote because of my own blog readership. And this is the NORM for video games available at our local department stores? What are YOU going to do to speak up about this issue? I am going to suggest that we can’t afford to remain silent on this issue as Christians. While Steyer argues that developers and producers have the constitutional right to create and sell whatever messages they want, I disagree.

“It was never the intent to limit the creative expression rights of the game developers. No matter how inappropriate or disgusting some of the images may have been, developers and producers have the right to create whatever messages and video games they want. I teach constitutional rights at Stanford, and I’ve long been a staunch defender of the First Amendment and its protection of creative freedoms. The only matter that we cared about was the sale of these ultra-violent n sexually violent games to children and younger teens.” (page 72, James P. Steyer)

Even though I can respect Steyer’s point of view, I cannot agree as a Christian. Selling and promoting games or movies that depict gruesome violence, abuse of women, and sexual violence as acceptable should never be a constitutional right. In my opinion it seems rather ignorant to believe that age restrictions will keep highly rated games or movies from getting into the hands of underage children, furthermore when did it become acceptable to abuse women and torture other people for fun at ANY AGE? That should never be a constitutional right…in any country. (And for the record, I don’t care how politically incorrect my conclusions are.)

I can’t understand why we are surprised at school shootings and other pointless outbursts of violence anymore. What makes us think that what is accepted (as a constitutional right no less) in a  virtual world will not supplant itself into reality?

“Leaders in the traditional entertainment industry have long acknowledged that movies like Natural Born Killers and The Saw can negatively impact young people and that violence is a public health issue for kids.” (page 73, James P. Steyer)

Simply a public health issue? (She scoffs.) And how can se assume it is only a “public health issue” for children? When are you ever old enough to process horrific violence and abuse?

Never. (She dares to suggest.)