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Barack Levin

Author: Barack Levin

Archive for December, 2011

Children as Consumers

Posted by Barack Levin on 27th December 2011

I remember a time, not too long ago, when kids used to be, well, kids. They spent their time playing outside, socializing and from time do their homework. Childhood back than was very simple and it was not too long ago, only 20-30 years ago.

On birthdays the gifts ranged from erasers to pencils and birthday parties were done at home with very few good friends or outdoors in a park with the whole class. Kids were just kids. They did not require much and they were not given much. They were happy with the few toys they had and were happy to share them with their friends.

About 15 years ago I started to notice a change. Kids became a targeted segment of the market, and as such kids lost that stigma of “being kids” and got a new definition – Consumers.

Now. Since the big companies do not really care about us, adults – old fashioned consumers, why would they care about kids as soon as they are also categorized as Consumers?

We already know that food for adults has lost its taste, lost its texture, lost its nutrients and the food industry could not care less. Now are kids are treated the same. The big  orporations only care about their bottom line. Who cares if a child eats 1000 calories in one sitting? The soda ad does not show the calories, it shows how cool it is to drink soda. Who cares that cartoons cause our kids not to develop their physical abilities? The media companies want them to watch TV so that they can sell more ad space. Who cares that technology gadgets cause our kids to become unsocial? The technology companies only want to sell more games.

Our kids are brainwashed since day 1 with garbage on a daily basis. Their developing brains are not exactly sure what is real and what is not any more. The big companies hook them up on products as captive audience for life. And what do we, the parents do? Nothing.

We let that background noise and bad influence enter our homes and our lives without even noticing them.

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Detached Kids

Posted by Barack Levin on 23rd December 2011

I sometimes suggest parents that I work with, to try and run this exercise in their heads to demonstrate to them why their kids do not accept their authority. Try it for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Today’s kids from an early age are deposited at day care when they are only a few weeks old. Busy parents drop them there as early as 7AM and pick them up again as late as 6PM. As a matter of fact, the new born spends most of his day with strangers.

As the new born becomes an infant and more aware of his surrounding he still spends most of his time with strangers and when he gets home, his parents are tired from a day’s work so they let him watch TV or play some video games.

The infant grows up and becomes a kid. He now goes to kindergarten or school. His days end at 2:30 but most of the time his parents can not take him home at this time and so they have two options. The first one would be a nanny to take care of him until 6PM and the other one – an after school program. At this age, kids still do not see their parents for more than an hour a day.

On weekends, from a very early age, the situation is not much different. Parents want to rest or run their errands and so the kids’ room or basement equipped with the latest gadgets are the new entertainment center. Not only that the kids do not spend enough time with their parents, now they suck their values, behavior and look on the world from flickering; unrealistic, animated icons.

If you were a kid raised this way, what would you think? How would you behave? Would you accept your parents’ authority?

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Politically Correct Curse Words Vs. Reality

Posted by Barack Levin on 16th December 2011

The other day, it dawned on me how ironic the censorship is. We all know that the media is blipping 7 curse words. And why do they do it – so that young years, god forbid, do not hear these awful and offensive words and again, god forbid, repeat them.

At the same time, these same media outlets, which “save” our young kids do not censor anything else; themes which are much more harmful to our kids. Examples? Here you go.

Did you watch a kid movie or even a cartoon lately? Have you noticed how much violence they feature? These flicks for kids are full of physical confrontations and violence. These flicks literarily teach our kids how to become violent.

Have you seen video games for kids recently? Do you know that the best selling titles are shooting games? From an early age we teach our kids how to hold a gun, shoot at other people and kill other animated human being. We are desensitizing our kids.

There is more. The media that we expose our kids to portrays women as needy and  dressed provocatively on the border line of sex objects. From an early age we teach our kids that women should be treated as second hand citizens and plant the idea that females always rely on males for their protections and that males see in women a sexual object and nothing else.

I despite the feverous efforts of the media and the government to enforce the 7 curse words and at the same time pump superficial ideas into our kids’ minds.

Incoming search terms:

politically correct swear words (17), politically correct curse words (1)

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Padded Basketball Court Floor? Are You Serious?

Posted by Barack Levin on 15th December 2011

I took my son to a new basketball practice program yesterday. Practices and games are held at the local elementary school’s basketball court. We arrived just before 6PM, ready to meet the new kids and parents. My son found a basketball while I introduced myself to the coach. On my walk to sit down and watch the practice I have noticed that the balls bouncing off of the basketball court sound a little muffled. At first I gave no second thought but then it hit me: The court’s floor was padded. Yes, you are reading this correctly – PADDED with a thick felt like material. I just could not believe my eyes. They padded the court to prevent injuries!

What next? Bubble wrap the kids before a game? Put helmets on each one? Replace the basketball with a sponge ball so no one gets hurt? How far will we take these ridiculous steps to so called “protect” our kids? There is no limit any more to stupidity.

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Sleeping Habits

Posted by Barack Levin on 13th December 2011

We experimented a little with our kids and their nightly sleeping habits. When they were babies and later infants they slept through out the night and napped here and there. As they grew up we tried to time their night bed time to see what would be the perfect time for them.

Even though they are now 7 and 6, bed time never changed. It still stands on 8PM every night except for weekend nights where we let them stay late until 9PM.

Our kids wake up at 7AM every weekday and leave the house 30 minutes later to be at school right before 8 in the morning.

Time and time again I have witnessed the effects of having them go to sleep late during school days. By late I mean, late by even 30 minutes. On those rare occasions, our kids are cranky in the mornings, barely able to drag themselves out of bed and have to go to bed even earlier the next evening. For me, I can not imagine having a kid sleep less than 11 hours per night and still function normally at school but I know many parents whose kids go to bed much later than 8PM on school days and I also see the results. They reflect in their homework, patience, class work and more. These kids drag with them, from childhood, sleep depravations and sleep disorders that later on in life do affect normal mental and developmental progress.

If you take into account that my kids are super active when they get back from school and not lie around watching TV all afternoon – you get that special kick as to why my kids (and any kid for that matter), need and have to sleep 11 hours a night.

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Snacks After the Game

Posted by Barack Levin on 12th December 2011

My kids participate in several sports activities. During winter time it is basketball season. They have a practice once a week and a game on the weekend. There is somewhat a twisted tradition that attached itself to the games like a leech attaches to your skin.

At the end of every game, while the coach goes over the highlights of the game, one parent provides snacks to the kids. It does not matter if the game finished right at lunch time or just before dinner time – it does not matter all. Snacks are brought out of their bags and distributed to the kids. If the kids would have gotten an apple, banana or even some grapes, I would have thought nothing of it, however, what the kids get are always store bought salty and sugary snacks. The irony here is that these kids finally had some physical activity and moved their untrained bodies to burn some calories and now they are getting empty calories as a compensation of their effort. So sad.

But there is another side to it. Kids are getting used to be rewarded by food for their efforts. Just like the Pavlov effect, where the dog drools when he hears the bell ring even though no food is offered, same with kids. They are being trained to receive fatty unhealthy foods at the end of every activity.

No wonder we grow a generation of fat, physically unfit lazy kids who are used to eat junk food.

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At Starbucks and Talking to Strangers

Posted by Barack Levin on 7th December 2011

Last night I had a last minute business meeting at 7PM. My wife was at yoga and I had to take the kids with me. The meeting was taking place at the nearest Starbucks and was schedule for about 30 minutes. Instead of approaching my kids with “bed” news about dad going out, I flipped the news in their favor.

“Kids” I said “I have a surprise for you”

“What is it daddy?” They ask

“We are going to Starbucks where you can buy hot milk and a cookie for desert”

They are jumping off their seats in excitement.

“You need to take your books to read while dad needs to talk to his friend”. They immediately agree and off we go.

As always, they purchase what they want by themselves. They approach the cashier and tell her exactly what they need. She rings them up and they also pay. They grab their goodies and go to sit on the sofa opening their books and reading while dad decides what he is going to have.

I choose my cookie and hot milk too and take my time ordering. My contact, which I only know through emails, has not arrived yet. When I am done, I take a look at the kids and see them talking to an adult sitting close to them on the sofa. Other parents might freak out, but not me. My kids know very well how to talk to adults and when. They know that if their dad is with them at the store, they have no problem engaging in conversation with anyone there. I smile and approach them.

As I do the person they talked to stands up and asks for my name and introduces himself. He is my contact person and without knowing it talked to my kids.

We sit down to take care of business and he tells me how parents are freaking out when other unknown adults talk to their kids. I briefly tell him about my theory and he smiles understating it completely. We get to business and every once in a while I glance at my kids. They are busy reading and drinking their hot milk. The meeting goes without a hitch and after 30 minutes we are done. During that time I did not have to quiet my kids, talk to them or even approach them because of something that they do. I conduct my meeting as if they were not there.

This brief and unimportant incident comes to demonstrate parents that kids can be obedient and under self control with proper upbringing.

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Fun with the Simple Things in Life

Posted by Barack Levin on 7th December 2011

Many parents ask me: “How can I engage my kids? What can I talk to them about? They never want to tell me anything any way”. My answer is very simple: engage them in the simplest everyday things. Make benign things a fun and mind blowing experiences for them.

I was going to visit a friend who lives in a gated community. The kids were with me at the car. Before reaching his gate and keying the entry code, I had a great idea.

“Kids” I turn back.

“Yes” they answer

“We are approaching his house but we need to key in his gate code to enter the community. I do not remember the code but I know it is 5 digit long. Do you mind trying to guess what it is?”

I can see how their eyes sparkle. Dad needs their help. They consult with each other for a few seconds and come up with a series of 5 digits.

“Ok” I reply as we stop by the keypad “Let’s try. Give me the numbers” and they do. I hear behind me: “3, 2, 7, 8” a little commotion and the last number comes in as well “5”.

I reach the keypad and key in the right code given to me by my friend but say out loud the numbers they just gave me, asking them to repeat them one more time but slowly.

“3, 2, 7, 8 and 5” I call out loud as the keypad beeps my entries.

To my kids’ utter amazement, their imaginary “code” works and the gate opens.

This small incident was the talk of the day. They could not believe how smart they were to guess the code.

It is the simple things in life that ignite our kids’ imagination. No need for cumbersome and elaborate electronic toys or video games.

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