Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Barbie vs. Baby Einstein

Interesting article on about whether the "trends" touted by the media are really trends.

"Here's how the typical American family is being portrayed. Most kids are coddled by helicopter parents who protect their child from failure. All moms have misgivings over their choice to work or stay home. Nannies are on duty at every playground, and the parents have fabulous jobs. Every child is pushed with too much homework, and every teenager is spoiled with too many luxuries. Teens have to apply to twelve colleges — because they're competing against all the other overachieving youngsters. And once they graduate, you would think every one of these young adults moves back home to mooch for a few years, unwilling to grow up and get a job."...

"The media needs a reality check. Mountains are being made of molehills. This new paranoia that we're all smothering our kids is a myth.

Parental involvement in schools has actually gone down, not up (a drop of 10% since 1998 in such things as attending PTA meetings and helping out with homework). Nor is every teenager spoiled or lazy; nearly a third of 16-year-olds have jobs while in school. Nearly a third of them volunteer, about one hour a week. Only 2% of students apply to 12 or more colleges, and only 150 of the nation's 3,500 colleges are so selective that they turn down over half their applicants. There are actually tons of college slots: 44% of colleges accept every single applicant. Some graduates do move home after college, but more 18-to-34-year-olds lived at home during the 1980s than do so today. Most families in America aren't doing too much for their children. They're doing everything they can, and it's just barely enough."

Reminds me of a senator who was interviewed during the drafting of the middle-class tax cut. When the reporter asked what family income level he considered to be middle-class, he replied, "$100,000." Not hardly! (I wish I could remember who that was.) And the fact that the media is out of touch with Middle America is hardly news. When a blizzard buries Minnesota or Wisconsin, it barely merits a mention in the national weather report. But when that same storm hits New York, it's a crisis of Biblical proportions!

I could just roll my eyes at the self-indulgent bias of the mainstream media, but the coverage is having unintended consequences. The Time authors argue that all this lack of perspective on the problems of the top 1%, the "Baby Einstein buyers," is trickling down and causing undue freak-outs among others who don't have these problems. "A survey of young Latinos showed they had picked up this panic that colleges are too selective and too expensive. Many had not bothered to apply even to their local public college, assuming it was as expensive as the Ivy Leagues and their grades weren't good enough to be admitted. When they were told the facts, three-fourths of them said they would have applied to college, if they had known earlier." And that is a shame.


Zany Mom said...

But how do you know the trickle down effect was NOT intended?!

A shame, yes. But I tend to believe the media *always* has ulterior motives.

Color me cynical.

The Princess Mom said...

Oh, I don't think the media is beyond manufacturing a crisis on a slow news day, but you're attributing intelligence to them that I'm just not sure that they have. ;-)

You're going to have to change your screen name to Cynical Mom, Zany. LOL