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The Big Answer


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The New (and Ancient) Social Network

an article by Doug Rogers

(our site's article review)

This SiteProNews: March 11, 2011 article is interesting enough to motivate us to try to understand where this guy was "coming from"—what his background was:

Doug Rogers was educated at Lehigh University with a BA and an MBA, in the fields of Journalism, Marketing, and Finance, and he was also the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity President and later Wyeth Consumer Healthcare President, Consumer Healthcare advisor and consultant, among other positions. And he has done public speaking on the topic of leadership ethics and the value of positive interpersonal relations as well as coached hundreds of various youth baseball, hockey, soccer and basketball games in recent years.

His parenting savvy comes—apparently—from raising three teenage sons. According to his article Can Parents Be Nice Guys?, the best way to raise kids is: Don't coerce or punish (see Discipline That Works), do use positive and negative reinforcement (e.g., withholding privileges), never use "permissive" parenting tactics, and do develop a strong command over our emotions towards our kids—see Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool.

Obedience is a great goal for dog training, but a bad one for parenting
Obedience is a great goal for dog training, but a bad one for parenting

The problem with such tactics as positive and negative reinforcement is that their purpose is control and their goal is obedience, which is a much better strategy for coaches to follow than for parents to follow, even though they work for either. Other than his positive and negative reinforcements, his tactics are spot on. Our website is crammed with what parents can do instead of control for obedience. See Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs and Discipline That Works. It would have been very surprising if this successful businessman and coach did NOT use positive and negative reinforcement techniques since it's how coaches think: it's the core of their coaching strategy.

Our kids are most connected to their own friends and the outside world when they are sitting in their own bedrooms
Our kids are most connected to their own friends and the outside world when they are sitting in their own bedrooms

Rogers says that "The startling reality is that our kids are most connected to their own friends and the outside world when they are sitting in their own bedrooms," so sending them to their rooms as "punishment" is silly, and keeping them off their electronic devices, TVs and internet would work much better. In the past, the primary influences of kids were parents, siblings, friends, TV, and teachers, but today’s primary influences are friends, pop culture, and 24/7 news. Parents have been rendered less relevant to today’s kids. But it's not "a sociological disaster for the human race. It’s merely progress along the process of evolution," says Rogers. It is important that parents extend an "empathic envelope," around kids, that balances empathy and expectations, and listens to them nonjudgmentally. It creates security to explore (à la Maslow) and multiplies the chances that their explorations are safe.

The author says that social networks have always been with us. But what used to be in families and communities is now partially in cyberspace. And " . . . today’s youth is the most socially connected and culturally aware generation in mankind’s history."

But at what price? Ads for junk food and stuff they don't need saturate their young lives as they navigate among their electronic devices, and pornography and hate websites are all just a click away. The truth is, the media lay very unhealthy values on our children—see Your Children Are Under Attack, Media Sexploitation, Make-Believe Media: The Politics of Entertainment, and Overthrowing Hollywood And The Broadcast Elites.

The media is making kids super-consumers that must have—or eat—whatever the ads tell them is cool or tasty, and big corporations are laughing all the way to the bank
The media is making kids super-consumers that must have—or eat—whatever the ads tell them is cool or tasty, and big corporations are laughing all the way to the bank

If parents have less time for guiding the moral development of their kids due to being at work so much, the media is happy to fill the void. And happiness, in this context, is all about making kids super-consumers, wanting and “needing” just about everything. End result: big corporations laughing all the way to the bank and kids developing some pretty unhealthy values in this super-consumer process.

The ads seem to tell us that since we are almost all fat and ugly anyway, why not quit resisting and go buy out the supermarket and bring home the food and pig out?
The ads seem to tell us that since we are almost all fat and ugly anyway, why not quit resisting and go buy out the supermarket and bring home the food and pig out?

In the media, the main lesson of all the violence in movies and TV is "might makes right." The main lesson from all the skinny role models in movies and on the boob tube is that nearly everyone is (comparatively) ugly and/or fat, so we may as well either give up and eat junk food and watch junk TV all day and get obese, or buy and utilize all the exercise equipment, cosmetics, dieting products, and cool clothes seen in the ads until we, too, are like the anorexic role models which Hollywood says are attractive (so it must be true, right?).

Ads tell consumers what they desire to have, so consumers don't have to make the effort to decide for themselves
Ads tell consumers what they desire to have, so consumers don't have to make the effort to decide for themselves

And what about learning responsibility and learning to become an autonomous, self-actualized, compassionate, thinking citizen who takes civic responsibilities seriously and volunteers to help others and finds a way to help spread love and understanding and becomes part of the solution in this world, rather than becoming just another mindless sheep, conforming to every fad and letting others do their thinking for them? Perhaps letting Mama Media and Papa Peergroup be our kids' examples to emulate and to get morals and values from has some downsides: They learn selfishness, greed, hypermaterialism, valuing things over people, lack of compassion, that violence is the best problem solver, that letting others do your thinking and deciding and choosing for you is easier than doing it yourself, ingratitude, irresponsibility, sensationalism, that crime pays, unhealthy eating, unhealthy sedentary lifestyle without regular exercise, superficiality, substance abuse, and promiscuity.

He saw the junk food ads and—unfortunately—he followed their bad guidance
He saw the junk food ads and—unfortunately—he followed their bad guidance

That doesn't mean there will be no young people who see through all the manipulations and exploitations of the media and decide to go their own way. But this nonconformity will prune down this nonconformist's friends list severely. And this will be a vicious circle, as when peers see that this nonconformist is not obsessively texting all the time like they are, they'll assume this nonconformist is a pariah and it will lower their reps to associate with this outcast—so they don't. So outcasts will tend to stick together (Goths, Nerds) or just be loners.

Parenting kids authoritatively rather than with autocratic methods like authoritarianism or rewards and punishments (positive and negative reinforcements) is the most likely way to avoid kids rebelling against parents' authority, since autocratic methods are controlling in order to get obedience. But authoritative parents use no controlling of kids which the kids feel they need to rebel against, so the various advice and guidance authoritative parents give their kids have the most chance of being heeded. And yet, such parenting as P.E.T. will merely increase your chances of having your guidance accepted—it will guarantee nothing. By far the best way to raise self-actualized, autonomous, critical thinkers who decide for themselves without controlling actions from others is to raise them optimally: See MC.