There is a phenomenon going on right now in American like no other time in history. It seems as if not even a few hours goes by, let alone a day, whereby the average teens does not click a button to accept or send a "friend me" request on Facebook, or to send or receive a "tweet" on Twitter, or to quickly craft one of the 3600 text messages sent out each month on average by today's youth.
Teens are flocking in droves to be "liked" or to be "followed" and to feel as if they fit in and are part of something special. They are willing to, in essence, bare it all on the internet.
They are willing to share who they are, where they live, their personal contact information, what they like to do, where they like to go, what their hobbies are, intimate thoughts about their personalities, what music or movies they like, things going on in their lives daily or in some cases hourly, and on and on and on.
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Read an Excerpt
Generation "Friend Me"
By Mark G. Pollock Antonietta Pollock
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Mark G. Pollock
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE MOST PRECIOUS GIFT IN LIFE
Over my adult lifetime, I have traveled over one million miles on airplanes, have been to all but four states in the USA and have spent time in over 20 countries. I have met and spent time with billionaires, CEO's of public companies, presidents of universities, teachers, pro athletes, politicians, closely held business owners, government officials, hourly plant workers, unemployed workers, the homeless, non profits, entrepreneurs, and of course other moms and dads.
I wouldn't say that I have seen it all, but I have certainly seen a lot ... from the poverty of the outskirts of Egypt to the amazing riches of all that the America has to offer. I have seen the best life has to offer and also the worst. I have owned and flown on private planes and golfed some of the best courses in the world. I have hoped my checks would clear some weeks to just pay my bills and make ends meet. I have seen cancer take loved ones far too early and I have seen friends celebrate their 100th birthday.
But, with complete and total certainly, there is one experience in life that far surpasses all others and that fabulous joy is watching the birth of your child. Antonietta and I have raised three fantastic boys, all of whom were born in the same suburban hospital in an eastern suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I was blessed to be there front and center for all three deliveries. Each one had it own sense of drama and excitement, but at the end of the day, watching our young baby slowly come out of the womb, with all of the anticipation and emotions, and then breathe his first breath ... WOW, that is one experience that will forever top the rest and I one that I will never forget.
There isn't even a close second. No vacation, no trip, no enchanted land, no luxury house, no fancy watch, no boyfriend or girlfriend, no fat bank account, or any other material possession or life experience, will ever come close to that of watching the miracle of a child being born.
God absolutely knew what he was doing!
Today, throughout the world 380,000 are born each day and while 10,000 are born in America alone. There are approximately 25 millions teens between the ages of 13 and 19 and there are 15 millions "tweens," that is kids between the ages of 9 and 12. All in all, that means in America there are 40 million young children between the ages of 9 and 19.
As a parent, there was no greater priority than to do whatever you had to do to care for your child as you watched them grow from that young infant through the adolescent years and then on to adulthood. You sacrificed personal time, sleep, financial resources, emotional energy and so much more to make sure that your children had a roof over their heads, were nurtured and cared for, had clothes and food, and were properly educated.
You read books to them at night, changed their diapers, cleaned up their messes, and even talked to them about the birds and the bees. You braved the terrible two's, took them to soccer tournaments two states away while sleeping in the car, and held your breath as they learned how to drive the family car. You drove them to their first homecoming or prom date, went to hundreds of sporting events, and then sacrificed to save enough money to pay for escalating college costs.
And then, before you knew it, in what seemed like a blink of an eye, they were gone and you were empty nesters. Well, not all of you are at that stage in your lives that Antonietta and I are, but if you have any kids of your own, I know that you can relate to one or more of these pictures in your own minds eye.
Simply put, there is no greater gift and no greater responsibility that God has bestowed upon us as parents than to care for and raise up our young sons and daughters. From the moment you learn that you're pregnant, then on through birth, young childhood and through the adolescent years, there is no greater sense of joy and satisfaction than having children of your own.
Chapter TwoGROWING UP IN AMERICA AS A BABY BOOMER
(And Italy too!)
Today I am squarely in the middle of the baby boomer era. I grew up in the very comfortable suburban neighborhood of Shaker Heights, Ohio. Located not too far from downtown Cleveland, our lives growing up as young kids were a blast. We walked to school every day, played kick-the-can and capture the flag with the neighborhood friends in the afternoons, and went on "bike hikes" with our shiny new 10-speeds on Saturdays.
During the summers we played little league baseball from sun up to sun down. Shaker had a great baseball league program for young kids with dozens of teams, which made for healthy competition and enabled pretty much every boy with any level of skill to fit in and play.
In fact, when I was just ten, one of the great recently retired ballplayers from the Cleveland Indians, Al Rosen, was my little league coach. Along with my dad and Ed Brandon, who later on became the CEO of National City Bank, I can remember experiencing one fun moment after another.
For example, after each game, win or lose, we would pile everyone into our brand new Ford Mustang convertible and head to the one and only McDonalds in Cleveland for a feast. Times were amazing back then. Hamburgers and fries were about 18 cents apiece and a coke was a dime. We would pull up to the outdoor window under the golden arches and order the same thing each time.... two hamburgers, two fries, and a coke. And believe it or not, we would get 18 cents back from our dollar as that entire order only cost us 82 cents. Amazing isn't it when compared to today?
In those times, there were no cell phones, no computers, no game boys, no X-Box 360's, no internet, and, from my perspective, ... no fears. I never once worried about meeting a sex predator on the street, being kidnapped, or losing one of my friends to suicide. From a kid's perspective we had life by the tail.
Pretty much every family in my neighborhood consisted of both a mom and dad and typically anywhere from two to five kids, usually only a few years apart. We participated in Cub Scouts and Brownies, built teepees and canoes for projects, went camping in the Smokey Mountains with our pop-up tents and campers, popped popcorn and made toasted cheese sandwiches together and watched one of only three channels on the family Black and White TV with the rabbit ears as an antenna in the one and only "family room."
While these experiences may have been unique to my family and me, I am sure that each of you could write a chapter of your unique experience and memories of your family and your youth. Maybe you played family card games, took long rides as a family, read books together or learned how to play musical instruments or even perhaps learned as a family how to cook. Whatever your story was, the common thread for me was that most everything was done as a family unit, together, whether we liked it or not.
We ate dinners together, drove to events together in the family car, and when one of us had a game, we all had a game. There were not many times for individualism and heading off into our own little worlds and doing our own things.
And a word about technology. The family technology consisted of one "family phone" located in the middle of the house. If anyone called, everyone in the house knew who it was and was able to listen to the entire conversation. There were, for most practical purposes, no private conversations. That also meant that there was no inappropriate behaviors going on or our parents were "all over us."
Family life was great for me growing up as a young child here in America. The neighborhood was fun, I had lots of friends, and we were always out playing or exploring and the only requirement was to be home for dinner at 6 p.m. Contrast that with today's youth.
As I became and adult and fell in love, it was with a beautiful young lady from Italy. Here's a little of her story because it highlights that while we are addressing life in America, these truths are universal.
Antonietta's story: (in her words)
Unlike my husband's, my childhood was quite different. I was born in Montecalvo, a small hill-town in Campania. Most of 1500 people there owned homes and land that were passed down from generation to generation. Life was very simple, unlike the sprawling cities and the millions of people that lived in nearby Naples or Rome. In fact, most people were farmers in one way or another and it was completely normal to have olive or different types of fruit trees, grape vines, and a vegetable garden just a few steps from your kitchen door.
Around the corner in our shed there were rabbits ... yes, same as the French, we ate rabbits too. Chickens would also be raised mostly for personal family consumption or to be occasionally sold at the local market. My mom would go to the market on Wednesdays and come back sometimes with only four or five items that she needed for the week, such as sugar, salt, or soap.
Every now and then, my mom would bring home from the market a big fluffy sack. My curiosity led me to open the sack and see what was inside the bag as it was quite stinky and smelled a little funny, as if I had just been walking behind a herd of sheep. My mom told me not to worry, that when this freshly sheered wool had been washed, dried and pulled apart, I would like it and would soon be sleeping on a soft, comfy mattress ... and she was right. I can remember today sitting in front of the fireplace and seeing how clean the wool got that we had just pulled, and that it didn't smell anymore. Each big handful looked like a cloud.
Dinnertime was very important to our family as mom always took great care to prepare a meal for us at the kitchen table. We were served a dinner of homemade bread from the wheat in her fields or tomatoes and green beans that she had just picked from the garden to make "ciambotta." A glass of homemade red wine was occasionally included in our evening meal and my mom would let us have a sip or two.
As a young girl, I loved being home and with my mom. She was always doing something around the house as her days were filled with activities such as planting a grape vineyard, hiring local workers to plant 500 olive trees in a field she purchased, making 30 or 40 bottles of tomato sauce for winter, or working on the addition to our house. Every fall, I remember pressing those grapes into wine, taking the olives to the mill to be pressed into oil, and harvesting our wheat to be turned in into flour to make bread.
Days back then seemed to last into weeks and one month seemed to me as if it was an entire year.
Our first home was very simple as it only had a kitchen and one bedroom. My sister and I slept with my mom in the same bed while my brother had a day bed with a fluffy mattress. We did not have a phone. And no, there was no computer, internet, or iPad either. No technology toys at all.
From my house on one side of the hill, I could see my school and the children playing there. School was about a 20-minute walk each day for my sister Maria, brother Felice, and me. Class went from 9:00 a.m. in the morning to 1:00pm in the afternoon. There was a special lunch program right after class ended that mom signed us up for. The lunch service was great for families whose parents worked in the fields and could not be home in time to have a warm meal prepared for their children.
Apart from all this, what I remember the most was the importance my parents placed on creating a sense of belonging and worthiness, as there was a great emphasis placed on the children being first. They took care to provide the basic necessities for us such as having food, shelter, a few pieces of clothing, and wood to heat the fire in winter to keep warm at night. Despite our lack of not having much, I did not ever feel deprived or lacking for anything at all.
Years later, after Mark and I got married, we took our first trip to Italy and I showed him the house where I lived. He was quite surprised, especially at seeing that we still had the same wool mattresses that I had helped my mom pull.
What also made my childhood a little unique is that in order to provide for our family, my Dad lived and worked in United States for eleven months of the year and for one month in the summer, he would come home and be with us. While he was gone we would talk about him with anticipation, which often started five or six months in advance of his next visit, much like the excitement today of young kids waiting for Christmas.
But for me, Dad coming back was my gift and it was so good to see him. He had, what became to me, as the "Smell of America." I think it was his American aftershave or maybe it was his Irish Spring soap or even his Hershey's chocolate he had in his suitcase for gifts to be given out to neighbors.
Like Mark I don't remember the fear of being kidnapped, molested, or bullied. In a small town such a Montecalvo, we knew pretty much everyone. When we went to weddings practically the entire town was invited for the celebration, including all of the children. And the town people looked after each other and each other's children too. If for some reason they saw some odd behavior, sooner or later, your parents knew about it.
Coming to America as a 12-year-old was exiting, yet I remember the fear of the unknown. I came in November of 1972 and the school year had already begun. My Dad quickly enrolled me into 6th grade. The superintendent, who was a friendly African American lady was kind and did her very best to help me assimilate into school.
Sensing insecurities, for the next 3 months she assigned a "buddy," Julie, to show me around school. After awhile, Julie grew a bit tired and irritated of having to be with me so much of the day and she began to distance herself. As she shared her frustration with others, I could hear the gossip starting too. I sensed that she no longer wanted this responsibility and simply wanted to do her own thing with new friends. Of course this whole experience hurt me a bit.
With support of my family though, this never become a big issue for me!
I can see now the culture in the middle and high schools today are quite different. Kids are more open in their gossip or hatred efforts, which we have now come to call "bullying." The internet has made this easier and kids can now attack each other without even being there. I wonder if being able to talk badly about someone on the Internet has made kids bolder in their attacks because it can be done with no immediate consequences or can be done with an increased amount of spite?
Having parented three boys through high school and college, I can see now how "being a little different" can create many opportunities for this behavior, just because you're not the same as them. Our boys just missed the major internet generation boom as teens, but I know that as a mom, there is no greater mission in life than to do everything in my power to protect my children and help them through these impressionable years called adolescence.
(Back to Mark)
So, as you can see, whether it was me growing up in America, or Antonietta growing up in Italy, our lives were much more simple and family oriented than the complex and fast paced internet and digital days of today.
Also, to complicate things in this generation, the "nuclear family" of the past, exists in a much different way. Since a large number of the marriages in the Untied States end up in divorce, quite a few children are living between two different families with more than one set of parents. There are step-moms and step-dads, half bothers and sisters, and blended families with many children living under one roof ... as mothers and fathers re-marry. Because of these new family units, communication is both more difficult but at the same time needs to be more important between parents and children, since the needs are greater and the times together are less frequent.
Life is so different today as a parent than it was for us growing up as a baby boomer. The American family today is far from the "typical" days of the past. There is certainly an increased need to get your hands around this new thing called "the digital explosion" and then get your hands around the many dangers that come with it.
Excerpted from Generation "Friend Me" by Mark G. Pollock Antonietta Pollock Copyright © 2011 by Mark G. Pollock. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1 The Most Precious Gift in Life....................1
2 Growing Up in America as a Baby Boomer....................5
3 A Parents Biggest Nightmare....................15
4 "The Big 3"....................19
5 Is "Sexting" Child Pornography?....................37
6 The Statistics Don't Lie....................43
7 Chat Rooms....................57
8 Social Media....................61
9 Facebook, Love It or Hate It ... It's Here to Stay!....................67
10 What Is the Role of Our Schools?....................73
11 Can You Change the Culture?....................79
12 The "New" Birds and the Bees....................87
13 Is This Big Brother?....................91
14 What Do I Do Now?....................95
15 Tools for Parenting....................101
16 Cloud Parenting ... A Call To All Parents!....................107
17 Cloud Parenting....................113
18 8 Points of Light....................119
19 A Final Word to Parents....................125
Acknowledgements, Disclosures, Sources, and Commentary....................131