July 7, 2006

A nice perspective on MySpace

Wes, just sent me this link and it’s one of the few balanced views from the media on myspace.

The writer quickly identifies the hype around myspace:

Folks, we are in the midst of a mass hysteria. The media has found the latest way to drive readers and ratings: the good ol’ fashioned gumbo stew of children and teens, sexuality, murder and death, new technology, and fear. Lots and lots of fear. Fear that freaks out parents and those in authority and leads to bad decisions made in the name of security.

He continues on the make the comparison between pre-internet phone harrassment and wonders about why we never banned phones.

He then describes an exchange he had as a young teacher during a parent-teacher interview:

I’m reminded of another story from my days as an English teacher years ago. It was parent-teacher conferences, and I was meeting with the parents of Sandy, a 9th grade girl who was quite smart but never did a lick of homework. I was a youth of 23, still green, while Sandy’s parents were in their 40s. The conversation went something like this (and this is the absolute truth, I promise):

Sandy’s Dad: We just can’t figure out why Sandy’s grades aren’t any good.

Me: She doesn’t do her homework.

Dad: Ah. Um … how do we get her to do her homework?

Me: Do you have a dining room table?

Sandy’s Mom (proudly): Oh yes!

Me: What does Sandy do after dinner?

Dad: She goes to her room.

Me: Well, how about after dinner, you have Sandy sit at the dining room table and do her homework instead?

Mom (leaning over to Dad): Write that down!

(Dad takes out a slip of paper from his pocket and a pen and – I swear to you – wrote down “Do homework at dining room table.”)

Dad: What else?

Me: How about one of you get up every half hour or so and ask her what she’s working on and then check it?

Mom (excitedly leaning over to Dad): Write that down!

(Dad writes down “Check homework every 30 min’s.”)

This astonished me. Here I was, only 23 and childless, and I was telling adults how to parent their teen! At that point I realized the awful truth: lots of people just don’t know how to raise their kids.

If you aren’t already, you should be bookmarking these type of responses because if you’re not already, you will be discussing these issues with policy makers.