I attended a meeting today at the school that I coach wrestling at during the regular season and it addressed these challenges that our youth are facing today! It was a very informative meeting to say the least. I am going to attempt to address both issues here because they are very much interrelated.
First of all, I will tell you a rule of thumb I have used for along time in coaching and that is that whatever the age of the student then that is about how many minutes I have of their full attention during the course of an hour. However, we as parents know that social media forums such as youtube can capture our children's attention for several hours each day. Herein lies the connection I am about to make between the two aforementioned issues in society that are in my title. The vaping industry is currently around a $6 billion industry and they are putting around $140 million of those dollars into marketing ads on social media sites such as youtube. Clearly they are targeting our youth by doing this. Furthermore by using names of flavors such as bubblegum, fruity flavors and then spreading the false notion that this is the safe alternative to cigarette smoking they are leading our youth into a deadly trap of addiction with many harmful effects. I will list some for those not aware: higher concentration of nicotine, inhalation of dangerous aerosols which are toxic and cancer causing, and ingesting of ultra fine particles of metals such as tin, nickel and lead to name a few. Although cigarette smoking is at an all time low, vaping is up 900% since the year 2011. This is nothing short of an epidemic!
Now, what can we do? First of all educate ourselves and our children on the facts of these situations. Vaping is an absolute danger to all who partake in it and is absolutely unacceptable. I advocate prevention before we need intervention when possible. Next, we must produce in their own language an attractable alternative or mode of educating them. We as parents must realize that ultimately our greatest teaching mechanism is our example, do as I say and not as I do is a false doctrine and a terrible parenting ideology. For example if we want our children to put down their smart phones how about we begin by putting ours down. However, I realize that we are not going to go back in time and not have the reality of smart phones and social media all around us, for goodness sake there are screens at gas stations, in elevators, in cars, virtually everywhere we look and that is no accident. It is by design as a sort of indoctrination of ideas and ideals that certainly benefits someone or something that our children's best interests may not be necessarily the end goal of. Another parenting ideology I will bring up as unhealthy in this day in age is the one of stating wait til your older and we will talk about that...because at the rate that information is getting passed to them on social media believe me they are already dealing with issues that previous generations had no real clue about until they were much older. We as parents need to step away from our own high level of distractions and remove the disconnect between us and our children and start having important talks and spending quality time with them.
Finally, another by-product we are seeing of this born with a smart phone in their hand generation is an alarming increase in anxiety and depression among our teens and quite frankly us adults also. This is no coincidence. We who live in a society where every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and the acquisition of material goods in such quantity as to supposedly guarantee in theory the achievement in happiness have found ourselves extremely unsatisfied, Why? I believe it is due to a psychological detail that has been overlooked: the constant desire to have more things and the struggle that this entails. And then F.O.M.O, the fear of missing out what we may see others displaying on their instagram and other accounts. And then another whole subject of an opioid epidemic comes to mind where the desire to escape extreme sadness comes with the possibility of instant death and somehow the heroin addicts find this as desirable. Connection? Quite possibly...
I must apologize for such a long read but I have dedicated my life to helping children and when I see things that are destroying this mission, I get very motivated! This fight for our children and their well being both physical and mental and ultimately spiritually is one of cosmic proportions, it is not a vague matter of the future, it is now!