Children and Pop Culture (cont.)

MODERATOR:
How can we get parents to understand that every TV comes with an OFF switch, if they themselves have bought into being lazy?

TAYLOR:
If parents are unwilling to take responsibility and are seduced by popular culture, their children are doomed because the two most powerful influences in children's lives are popular culture and parents who are telling them to go to "the dark side." Look what happened to Anikan Skywalker when he grew up; he became Darth Vader. Do you want your children to become Darth Vader?

Hopefully my book will become a call to action because the first step in protecting kids is for parents to know their values. I speak to thousands of parents every year, and many of them tell me they've never sat down and talked about what they value. How can parents possibly communicate healthy values to their kids if they're not even sure what they are? Parents need to really look carefully at their values and whether they're actually living their values. All parents will say they believe in the six values in my book, but if you look at the way they live their lives, many don't.

MODERATOR:
I think part of the problem is the political arena's usurpation of what "values" means and whose values have legitimacy.

TAYLOR:
One of the problems is that values have been hijacked by politicians, by media talking heads and by extremists at both ends of the spectrum. My book doesn't have a political agenda and it doesn't have a religious agenda. Any time you have a political or religious angle you're going to divide people. And my goal in writing this book was to bring people together to talk about values that made our country great and that we can all agree on.

While our country is divided over a so-called culture war, we're losing the real culture war against popular culture, and our children are the casualties. Our only chance in winning this war against popular culture is to focus on the values we all share and create a counterpopular cultural revolution; this will only occur at the grass roots level. Our government, on the left or the right, long ago, sold our special interests and money, and only pays lip service to caring about children and popular culture isn't going to change because it's making lots of money.

"Peer pressure -- the greatest ally of popular culture and the greatest enemy of children."

Fortunately, parents aren't alone. Hopefully schools continue parents' values and for people of faith, houses of worship. In my book, I discuss what I call a family value culture. Kids want to be part of a culture, it gives them identity, connection and support. If parents can create a family value culture, that is a culture based on your family's values, they won't need to look elsewhere, such as to popular culture, to feel part of a culture. That family value culture starts with knowing your values, making sure they're healthy values, living your values and then to expand the army. Parents can't fight this war alone, and that army can come from neighborhoods, schools and houses of worship to create a community value culture.

Peer pressure -- the greatest ally of popular culture and the greatest enemy of children. We've lost our communities of shared values. When you send your kids over to their friends' houses, who knows what they're doing over there in terms of TV, video games and whatnot. But if you can surround your family with a community that has similar values, then the peer pressure becomes positive. The pressure is to adhere to your kids' values and when your kids go over to friends' houses, you can trust that similar values are going to be communicated. So this umbrella, the shield of values, goes with kids wherever they go.

Some parents believe they can protect their kids from popular culture by not educating them about it, by shielding them from it, by not exposing them to it and you want to do that early in children's lives. But as they get older and they're going out into the real world, parents need to give them the armor and the weaponry to resist popular culture's attacks. There are some important value tools that parents can teach their kids.

MODERATOR:
For those parents who want to reclaim their place in training their children, what practical steps do you suggest?

TAYLOR:
I already mentioned two: to really sit down and understand your values, and to study popular culture and really understand the deep hidden messages, what I call the stealth messages that popular culture communicates to kids. These are the messages behind the entertaining characters and the fun music. For example, if you look at so many of the advertisements on TV now and you look at the stealth messages, they're about selfishness and popularity, physical attractiveness and being cool rather than doing what's right.

MODERATOR:
And some have no "stealth message" at all -- Paris Hilton shilling for burgers by having sex on a car. Eat the burger -- get Paris.

TAYLOR:
I call those loudspeaker messages because they're very obvious. There was outrage over those ads, but there should be outrage over the stealth messages, because those are the ones that sneak by parents and get into the kids' heads, because they tap into the very basic needs of children.

MODERATOR:
The "free" toys if you eat this fast food; the toys aren't free, you pay with your health.


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