Sunday, August 12, 2012

Privilege or Right?

Young children with Credit Cards, iPods and greater technological freedom

Let me start off by stating that just a few weeks ago, I opened my first checking account. Along with it came a shiny new Debit Card (Cue screaming girls), and at the age of 17, that felt like a pretty big privilege for my parents to give. Yet the next day, I was disabused of the notion that I was ahead of the game by the revelation that I am actually 7 years behind.

“Can I get a high five?” is my constant refrain as I stand in the lobby of Meyerland Martial Arts Center, greeting students coming in and talking with the parents of the Little Dragons I just taught for 40 minutes (Then again, every 5 minutes spent in charge of toddlers feels like 30 minutes), and usually most kids grin and jump to smack down the hand hovering a foot over their heads.

This time, however, Aiden Portman, a 5-year-old Little Dragon who, mere minutes before, was focused utterly on every Power Rangers-esque exaggerated gesture I made, was completely absorbed by a pseudo-Minecraft app on his iPod Touch. HIS iPod Touch. At 5 years old. Apparently he got it for getting an E in conduct in Pre-K. (I never got that high five.)

That wasn’t even the most surprising encounter for me that day; when Joseph Gonzalez, a 10-year-old Blue Belt, asked if he could buy a new mouth guard (He’d lost his in his room.... how does that happen?), he whipped out a CREDIT CARD  with, as I soon learned, a $200 limit
a week; all he has to do is clean his room for it (Oh the irony).

Its been 3 weeks since then; I am now 17 years, 3 months and 18 days old, and my Debit Card (Not as cool sounding as CREDIT CARD is) is limited by my father’s co-signature rights to withdrawals and debits of less than $100 a day.

This leads me to beg the question; when did the parents of this younger generation start to give their kids so many privileges at such a young age? I knew my parents were relatively strict compared to those of my peers (My father was infamous for saying “There are no Happy Meals. Only unhappy meals.” every time I begged for one from McDonalds), but this is on a whole new level.

Before everyone starts saying “QQ more”, think about it; there are
5-year-olds with iPods. Correct me If I’m wrong, but it was only 12 years (3 months, etc. etc.) ago that I was that age, and I don’t recall having a Nintendo 64, let alone a device with the ability to surf the web, play hundreds of games, hold thousands of songs, take pictures, etc. etc., at the age when most children were playing freeze tag on the dilapidated playground at the neighborhood park and getting bruised and cut up by the sharp rocks that were used as cushioning for the more-than-occasional fall (They use WOOD SHAVINGS now, can you believe that? EZ mode.)

As an instructor in Martial Arts for kids of all ages, I can see a major correlation between the personalities, concentration and mental abilities of students and what privileges their parents treat like rights(If getting an E and cleaning your room are requirements for a privilege, it's basically a right). A good 25% of the students in any given class will immediately grab an iPod or PSP or 3DS from their parents as soon as they are off the mat, and those students are the same ones who have a hard time focusing in class, who are generally not as athletically capable as others, and who have a hard time remembering their forms, let alone my name.

Thus, it worries me how much privilege we, as a society, are giving to the most vulnerable of us; I don’t mean to critique anyone’s parenting skills (well, a little) but honestly, the last thing we should be giving kids would be greater access to technology that can be potentially damaging and can create bad habits (What do YOU think a 10-year-old will do with a Credit Card if he or she doesn’t have any responsibility for the cost?) 


My take: do what this ingenious mother did. Turn the problem into the solution by using technology and financial independence as carrots for fostering greater responsibility in kids. Done properly, it can prevent kids going rotten from being spoiled into arrogance and we might even save some children from turning into Veruca; “Daddy, I want an oompa loompa NOWWW!”

-Aadil Pappa

Hey. Name is Aadil. I'm a martial artist first and foremost, and a tech savvy guy second. I am always looking to improve myself in every manner possible, and writing essays for a blog like this is just one excellent way to do so. Unlike the regulars on QBA, the extent of my talent in "arts" is "martial arts", so I can't say that I am musically inclined whatsoever. I am a gamer, and am proud to say I played The Elder Scrolls series, Warcraft 3 and many other games before they were cool (cue hipster pose).

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  1. I'm seventeen and I don't have a debit card. Or an iPod touch ;3; And when I was little, it was "Clean the whole house every day or get a 'whooping' (correcting it and dating ' whipping' makes it sound baaaaad).