Trump Media Messages with Parent Messages

March 27th, 2012

The recent rulings about whether or not it is constitutional to mandate graphic warning labels on cigarette packaging brings to light an important question: how can you use your Parent Power to counteract the power that media and advertising has on your kids? As a parent, you can provide your children with the right messages to replace the wrong ones. Tobacco companies spend billions to get your kids to start smoking at an early age. These companies know what the public health and scientific research communities have now confirmed – that if they don’t get kids to start smoking when they are young, those kids may never start. Getting kids to experiment is key to developing long-term customers and adult addicts.  With more than 400,000 smoking-related deaths a year, the tobacco industry merchants need to get at least 5,000 kids a day to try cigarettes just so they can maintain their markets.

But as susceptible as children’s brains are to the constant integrated messages in the media, you as a parent are still their most trusted source of information. Talking to kids about media messages in an open and honest way is the first step. By explaining where particular messages come from, who is paying for the commercials on TV, online and in print and what their goal is will help your children figure out for themselves the motivations behind a lot of the “cool” messages and brands they are exposed to. Teach your kids that advertising is meant to influence the way they think. Adolescents will be empowered by understanding that advertising can be manipulative. This is why the truth® antismoking campaign of the American Legacy Foundation was so successful. This campaign educated teens about tobacco advertising; it recognizes that teens are rebellious and want to view themselves as independent; is says to kids, “Don’t let these guys manipulate you.”

So will the graphic warning labels on cigarette packages help parents in their fight to keep their kids smoke-free? That’s still debatable. But one thing isn’t – that parent power trumps media power and is still the most effective way to help keep kids tobacco and substance-free.

Comments:

  1. Anonymous writes:

    This really is excellent!

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15 Fun Things To Do As A Family

March 19th, 2012

The first day of spring is tomorrow! For ideas on how to make the most of the warmer weather and family time, check out our “to-do list”:

1. Go to a museum and play a quick game of eye spy in one of the exhibits.
2. Go hiking and reward yourself with a nice picnic lunch when you get to the top.
3. Make dinner together while pretending that you’re on a cooking show. Our very own recipe ideas here.
4. Go to the zoo and make sure to take pictures near the most exotic looking animals.
5. Put on music and have a dance party in your living room.
6. Go bowling. Winner gets to pick the dinner spot afterwards!
7. Visit a historical site or landmark in your area.
8. Look through old family photographs.
9. Catch a play at your local community theater.
10. Have a “mystery trip” day. Pick a fun destination within a few hours’ drive, but don’t tell the kids! Feel free to give them hints along the way!
11. Turn household chores into games. You get to do an “inspection” when the kids are done with their assigned tasks. The person that did the best job gets a prize.
12. Go to a pottery painting shop or ceramics café and get the creativity flowing!
13. Find a drive-in movie theater and make the trip, it will be a totally new experience with kids and for kids!
14. Write a story with your kids. You start with the first sentence, then take turns. Get started with our Family Fairy Tales.
15. And of course: have dinner together!

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Why Teens Are More Susceptible To Substance Use

March 7th, 2012

Why is it that teenagers seem to be so impulsive and so reckless at times? It’s because teenagers’ brains are still developing. The process of cognitive development that is responsible for our judgment, decision making and impulse control continues all the way until our mid-20s, when the human brain becomes fully formed.

Teens literally are not always able to control their impulses the way that adults can, which can lead to situations and decisions that put them and others at risk. Because their brains are still developing, adolescents lack some of the “wiring” that sends the brake or stop signals to the rest of the brain. Teenagers’ brains encourage them to take risks for fun, and they don’t perceive those risks as dangerous in the way that adult brains do.

For more science behind teen brain development, see The Partnership at Drug Free.org’s podcast “Understanding the Developing Teen Brain”.

So how can parents intervene in this natural maturing process and try to prevent their teens from making dangerous decisions? A big part is setting rules and boundaries and enforcing them. Also, a relationship based on trust, respect and honesty between parents and teens encourages teens to think twice before they engage in risky behaviors for fear of disappointing their parents. We know that one of the major reasons teens say they refrain from doing drugs is because of their parents. Teens really do care what their parents think of them, and generally don’t want to disappoint them: in CASA Columbia surveys we have asked children who do not smoke, drink, or use drugs “why?” They overwhelmingly have answered: “Because our parents would be extremely upset.”

Building that respect and trust is not always easy but it certainly pays off. How do you build openness, trust and respect with your teens?

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