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How does pop culture, reality TV affect your child?

By From page A8 | January 25, 2014

During a conversation with my teenage daughter about her choice of entertainment, we talked about the educational value of shows like “Bad Girls Club.” After her unsuccessful attempt to justify the inappropriate behavior as simply entertainment, that show has been banned in my household until . . . forever.

We ended the conversation by talking about 18-year-old Floridian Gabriel Turnquest, who is the youngest person in the world to pass the United Kingdom bar exam. Now that’s a “Bad Girl” for you. We then talked about why such an interesting and inspiring story was nowhere to be found on any of the national television networks or cable networks.

However, we had no trouble at all finding shows like “Love & Hip Hop,” “Mob Wives” or “16 and Pregnant” at any time of day.

I also had a conversation with a young group of hip-hop enthusiasts. Our conversation was about modern slang, or as the popular local rap artist E-40 would say, the “slanguage.” It is not hard to recognize that along with appropriate etiquette, speaking proper English has also seemed to have faded fast.

My message to these young folks was that it would be in their best interest to maintain a good hold of the wonderful tool of the English language, despite how the powerful modern culture has tortured it.

There are far too many youths who are adamant about maintaining certain pop cultural trends. I counter with, “be careful who you are following, because you might be misled.”

I was deeply disappointed, yet not surprised, that today’s young people are too naive to realize that these cultural trends have a significant contribution to the detriment of youth culture. It can be very disheartening. Youth workers, parents and teachers have a huge uphill climb to re-educated youth and improve the quality of life for today’s youth generation.

At a brief presentation with a healthy group of male youths last week, we had a conversation about communication skills. By focusing on professional communication, we can elevate and expand young people’s vocabularies.

Some people support the modern pop culture language as a form of independence and self-expression. I maintain that outside of the entertainment industry and the hip-hop environment, it is yet another form of glamorizing ignorance that continues to haunt many of our youths. Poor communication skills also contribute to yet another possible employment barrier for young job-seekers.

I respect some elements of the modern youth culture, yet I refuse to support the aspects that could be detrimental to their development. I appreciate being chastised by my mother when I used “ain’t” instead of “isn’t.”

Due to the influence of modern pop culture, many of our young people are being given a pass to speak broken English in any environment. So my dialogue with this group of youngsters was challenging as I tried to encourage them to arm themselves with an expanded vocabulary in the spirit of diversity. In other words, be able to communicate with anyone in any environment from the hood to the boardroom and either on the court or in court.

We have become a society that not only glamorizes inappropriate behavior, but now we have high-profile role models who promote the fact that you can also become rich and famous for doing so. Parenting has never been more of a challenge than it is today. We need to continue to promote more life-skills education among the younger generation that go beyond the traditional classroom.

Deon D. Price is a youth life skills coach and writer who lives in Fairfield. He can be reached at [email protected] or follow www.twitter.com/youthgeneration.

Deon Price


Discussion | 12 comments

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  • The MisterJanuary 25, 2014 - 7:56 am

    You are very right, Deon, society does glamorize inappropriate behavior. But who is "society" that sets this inappropriate agenda? Obviously it's the media. The media, from news to music to TV to movies, is ultimately in the hands of a very small number of people. It is those few people who have allowed their media empires to push the inappropriate-level envelope. And, of course, we've seen the results in society and in our children. We can't fight the enemy, Deon, until we've identified the enemy. And the glamorization of inappropriate behavior is an enemy attack on society and children.

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  • Mr. PracticalJanuary 25, 2014 - 9:19 am

    Actually, it's in the hands of a large number of people. The American public controls the media by what they watch, read and purchase. That's the beauty of capitalism. It tends to be an accurate representation of what people want. Unfortunately, at this time, it's representative of apathy, instant gratification and a lack of knowledge on the important issues.

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  • The MisterJanuary 25, 2014 - 10:22 am

    Mr. Practical... you've been hittin' the dope too much.

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  • Mr. PracticalJanuary 25, 2014 - 11:21 am

    How much is too much?

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  • Mike KirchubelJanuary 25, 2014 - 8:03 pm

    Mr. P, i enjoyed your patriotic sloganeering about we the people, but i think T.M. is right to sneer. The powerful few who control the media determine who is popular and what is news. By their actions, they can control what conversations America has. If you compare network news to PBS news, you can see a lot of what is left out of our mainstream minds. And PBS is by no means the final word. Editors always pick what to put out for their audience. We dont get to pick our news like we can pick a record album, i mean a cd, . Why, because nobody cares what music you listen to, but they so care what you know.

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  • Mr. PracticalJanuary 26, 2014 - 5:59 am

    Mike, you're correct in the short-term but wrong in the long run.

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  • rlw895January 26, 2014 - 6:10 am

    Mr.P: "At this time..." And you think that's going to change? How and why?

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  • Mr. PracticalJanuary 26, 2014 - 6:30 am

    rlw, I don't understand the "at this time." I didn't say I thought it was going to change. The point is consumers ultimately control the content. Whether they actually take control is another story.

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  • The MediaJanuary 25, 2014 - 9:50 am

    I am the media. I control all that you see and hear. I am rich beyond your dreams and I want things to stay the way they are. So you may see all the distractions you want: sports, dancers, singers, movies, "reality" shows, gold mining shows, home improvement shows, travel shows, cooking shows, shows about "personalities," and on and on. You can also watch all the junk political and news shows you want. They can talk about abortions, guns, shootouts, car wrecks, fires, sex, new electronic toys, or any other mundane issues that occupy your life on this planet. But you will not be allowed to see or hear are conversations about the foundational aspects of our economy and how they are set-up to make the rich richer and everybody else, poorer. You shouldn't bother your pretty little minds with that. Here, why don't you watch these cooks compete, trying to make a dinner out of seaweed, snickerdoodles, and slugs. You WILL find it interesting and while you watch, I will make another billion dollars. All I have to do is occupy your time with trivial pursuits until you die. I won't have to work so hard distracting your children, I'm dumbing them down as we speak.

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  • DeonJanuary 25, 2014 - 1:54 pm

    Mr. Media, Thanks for revealing your true colors, you evil rascal you.

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  • LoveleeJanuary 25, 2014 - 10:08 am

    Yes!! Again, I love Deon's articles. My daughter is only 4 but I have every channel in the house locked except Disney junior and PBS. My husband thinks I am overboard because I also make him wait to watch shows like SOA until she is in bed. Growing up in a big family there were times we barley had food on the table, my mother always said we didn't have cable because it wasn't any good, although I know now it was just because we couldnt afford it. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I have a love for books and being outside. I can't really get into cheesy primetime shows so when I do watch TV its usually documentaries on Netflix.. I hope my daughter follows in my footsteps :)

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  • deondpriceJanuary 25, 2014 - 11:51 am

    Readers, I appreciate your intelligent comments on this subject matter. Your thoughts are well received. I believe like anything, we need to be mindful of what we allow into our hearts, minds and spirits. One of the most revealing definitions of entertainment is "A temporary occupation of the mind". Thanks for your response.

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