In my recent talking with kids, Scrooge of London seems to have lost a lot of ground as the definitive morality tale about Christmas self-redemption. Instead it’s another miserable misanthrope, the green Grinch of Whoville, who seems to have captured children’s imaginations lately. Perhaps the farfetched hairy Grinch (first depicted by Seuss in 1956) is better able to appeal across cultural boundaries in today’s multicultural America than the strictly British characters Dickens invented in 1843.
Americans in 2016 do not much resemble Londoners from Dickens’ story. Last year I did a study in southern New Jersey (in households that were facing economic struggle and had kids age 6 to 8). Read more
October 31st is America’s curious anomaly. On October’s last day, as trees defoliate and nature ebbs towards the deadness of winter, parents mark the day by lifting prohibitions. From sugar treats to stranger visiting, what is usually forbidden falls within kids’ reach. That day children lampoon adults, dressing up in roles of mature power (princesses, firemen, astronauts, pirates); kids arrive at strangers’ doorsteps and ceremonially threaten the grown-ups within with a veiled threat, “trick or treat.” Without further ado adults hand over candy, normally a controlled substance in children’s lives. Read more
The representation of everyday children in our media-driven society often ignores how parents shape their child’s digital presence long before the child is able to have a say. Issues of privacy and protection, hotly debated in other arenas, are overlooked as parents post images and videos on social media. Katie Elson Anderson focuses on the issues of protection and privacy as everyday children’s lives go viral. —Cyndi Maurer, PhD (editor)
YouTube is full of adorable babies, sassy toddlers, precocious preschoolers, and talented and entertaining elementary school students. When a video goes viral, besides being viewed on the internet, it can be widely shared by other media outlets, including the nightly news or a late night comedy show. In some cases, adults are encouraged to share videos in which they do mean things to their children, such as tell them they ate all of their Halloween candy (Jimmy Kimmel Live, 2015). The child’s reactions and emotions become entertainment for a broad audience, violating the child’s right to privacy, which encompasses the right to cry about a hurtful event without being put on display.
During the years 2005 to 2012, when I conducted research on July 4th family rituals, the United States imported — mostly from China — over $32,000,000 worth of American flags. These flags testify to and plot the vigorous ceremonial life of the American nation-state: decorating military veterans graves’ at Memorial Day and the caskets of war dead from Afghanistan and Iraq, waving atop flag poles in front of schools and inside classrooms, at capitals and public buildings. In public places, flags are daily raised and later lowered, raised only at half mast to honor the passing of revered Americans. Read more
These days deciding where to send your child for summer camp can give parents almost as much anguish as the all-important choice of college.
Is computer camp an investment in future success? Will a summer spent away from home offer enough benefits, like team-building and self-reliance, to justify the price tag? These are questions parents from diverse financial backgrounds are asking as they consider their children’s options for fun, friendship, and learning.
The practice of sending kids away from home to experience the joys of fresh air, starry skies, and activities beyond the routine wasn’t always egalitarian. In fact, the first official summer camp for children began in the 1880s specifically to address the effects of upper-class privilege. Read more