Every day, we see people arguing about what’s causing so many different problems in the world today. It’s 2020, and we still have people blaming violent video games for mass shootings. Back in the 90s and early 2000s, it was those darn musicians like Eminem and Marilyn Manson making our kids go insane. Before that, in the 1980s, death metal was the root cause of problems and started the rise of Satanic Panic. Today, YouTubers are battling the regulations of COPPA being enforced by the FTC, but I only have one question:
When are parents going to start taking some responsibility?
I’m a father of an 11-year-old son, and I am blown away at how often I see my fellow parents trying to figure out ways to take absolutely no responsibility for how their child turns out. Whenever I look at the world’s problems, I literally blame everything on the parents.
For years now, I’ve been educating people about mental health. I do my best to not only teach people how to overcome their struggles with mental health problems based on my personal experience, but I try to raise awareness in the process. My passion for this subject stems from developing a drug and alcohol addiction due to self-medicating my depression and anxiety. Schools are getting a little bit better about teaching kids to take care of their mental health, but we’re still a long way away from where we need to be.
When I was a kid, learning about mental illness and coping strategies was non-existent. I graduated high school in 2003, and I took an assortment of health classes over the years. I can tell you all about the dangers of unprotected sex and cancer as well as the importance of physical fitness, but by the time I graduated, I didn’t know how to spot the signs of depression or anxiety. Hell, I didn’t even know what those things were.
As topics like this come up, the easiest thing we can do is blame the schools. We can go to town hall meetings and PTA meetings to urge implementing mental health education into the curriculum, but this is a prime example of shucking the responsibility onto teachers.
This is not only unfair, but it’s absolutely ridiculous.
The reality is that most kids develop mental health issues from their issues at home. I grew up with an alcoholic mom and a workaholic dad. My school wasn’t going to fix that for me. My parents needed to work on that.
To this day, the leading cause of addiction is having an untreated or undiagnosed mental illness. Our teachers are trained to teach our kids reading, writing, math, history, biology and more. Giving them the responsibility to be able to spot problems with our kids is just taking responsibility from the parents.
Parents should be involved enough in the lives of their children to be able to know if something is wrong. At that point, it’s the parent’s job to open up a dialogue with the child and get them the help they need.
Also, it’s probably a good idea to stop verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually abusing your children. There’s a good chance they’ll turn out messed up if terrible parents don’t knock that off too. In these instances, hopefully teachers do recognize some of the signs so they can get the authorities involved.
The Current State of Violence
Mass shootings have been on the rise for years, and it doesn’t look like that trend is slowing down any time soon. Everyone is trying to find external reasons for this problem no matter which side of the gun debate they’re on. Right-wingers want to protect their right to bear arms, so they blame videogames, music, mental illness and the lack of God in schools. Those on the left blame the easy access to guns.
I blame the parents.
A child with a good upbringing doesn’t become a mass shooter or a serial killer. That’s just not how it works.
There is nobody more qualified to recognize the signs of a problem than a parent. Parents the only ones in a position to know if their child is becoming more withdrawn or angry. You might be saying, “What about kids who are relentlessly bullied at school?!”, well, I blame the parents. Every day, I discuss how my son’s day went at school. He’s in 5th grade, so he’s had run-ins with bullies, and since we’ve had open discussions since he was five, he knows he can talk to me about anything.
It’s our job as parents to know what’s going on in our child’s life and how we can help. If we keep blaming all of these other factors for the violence in the United States, we’re never going to get to the root of the problem, which is that our children are suffering and miserable.
The FTC and COPPA
I come from the realm of YouTube, and the hottest topic among creators at the end of 2019 and leading into 2020 is COPPA. COPPA is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, which is designed to keep the user data of children private. You can watch one of the hundred videos on YouTube about it, or there’s a really funny episode on HBO’s Silicon Valley about the subject.
In 2019, Google and YouTube set a record for paying $170 million in COPPA fines. So, even though YouTube and the parent company Google are richer than God, they don’t want to keep forking out this dough. As a way to prevent this from happening in the future, they’ve passed the responsibility onto creators, and that’s what has creators in an uproar.
YouTubers are notorious for marketing to children, and the YouTuber Nerd City did an in-depth video on Jake Paul and Jake’s shady methods of marketing to children. Nerd does a great job discussing FTC regulations that have been in place for decades to prevent the marketing of children. As someone who is a big psychology nerd, the psychology of it all is sound. Basically, kids have difficulty separating fiction from reality, so it’s unfair to market to kids.
While all of this makes sense, I still blame the parents because this seems like useless regulations to avoid giving parents more responsibility.
My son is 11 years old, and he’s been watching YouTube for years now. He’s one of the reasons I decided to start my YouTube channel because it helped me realize that I could reach viewers of all ages to try to help them with their mental health. Aside from being an avid YouTube viewer, something else you should know about my son is that he doesn’t have a job, a bank account or a credit card.
Why am I telling you this? Because my son can’t make a purchase without it going through myself, his mom or another adult.
It is absolutely ridiculous to make all these regulations for marketing to children because the worst-case scenario is that kids bug their parents for stuff. I used to watch Saturday morning cartoons and SNICK all the time, and toys I wanted were constantly shoved down my throat via commercials. I was much like my son in the sense that I had no direct access to money, so I had to ask my dad, and my dad said, “No”.
I guess some of my dad’s parenting rubbed off on me because when my son asks me for a bunch of random things that were marketed to him, I say, “No.” I’ve also taught him the value of money. He has chores and an allowance, and if he wants to buy toys or V-bucks in Fortnite, he can do so. If he blows all his money on it and can’t by other things he wants…well, welcome to adulthood.
Rather than telling kids “no”, parents want the FTC and other regulations to just start prohibiting or limiting the ability to advertise to kids. The only reason I can even fathom this making sense is if we had an epidemic of kids stealing credit cards to buy Jake Paul merch.
But even if that were the case, I’d blame the parents. Punish your child for being a Jake Pauler and work on changing his or her shady credit card stealing habits.
Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of outside forces that affect our children, but it’s our job as parents to help teach them how to navigate the world. It’s also our responsibility to protect them, but it’s not about protecting them from advertising, music and videogames. These aren’t going anywhere any time soon, so that’s why we need to be the ones having conversations with our kids and helping them where we can.
My son’s only 11, and there’s still a chance that he’ll turn out to be a massive screw up when he becomes a teenager. Even if that does happen, it’s nobody else’s responsibility but my own, and I’ll be there to help him get back on the right path.
If your parents screwed you up like mine did, I highly recommend the service I use, BetterHelp. They’re an affordable online therapy service, and by using this link, you help support The Rewired Soul.