Whose fault is it anyway?
Oct 9, 2013 / 5:00 am
CBC News recently ran an article that outlined how professional athletes are, more often than not, advertising unhealthy snacks and treats that are predominantly aimed at young children and teenagers. The article, "Athletes in junk food ads send kids mixed messages," features a hilarious solution: "The authors also called on governments worldwide to consider policies that restrict food advertisements featuring pro athletes in media targeted at youth." In other words: Father Government needs to step in and give them advertisers a lickin' for... doing their job.
This accusation is essentially stating that a) most children and teenagers are soft, fluffy, easily influenced automatons that will eat whatever the television tells them to, and b) that it is the responsibility of the advertisers and athletes to maintain some type of social good for the benefit of young adults everywhere. Frankly, that is patently ridiculous. Children, and their decisions, are the responsibility of the parents. Sidney Crosby does not have to be in a celery commercial to convince kids to eat healthy. He is a world-renowned athlete that participates in an intense workout regime to keep himself healthy and fit to complete on a world-class level.
If he is part of an advertisement for Powerade, and that somehow forces someone's child to drink Powerade, while habitually sitting in front of the television, how is that his responsibility? Should Sidney go door-to-door, and drag kids out into the street to play some pick-up games and get them some exercise? No. That's the responsibility of the parents. But we are so enamoured with the concept of protecting our children from the immediate threat of... fresh air, that we've planted them in front of the television and now we're curious why they eat whatever's advertised to them and, suspiciously, can't keep the weight off.
It isn't a mystery. Scooby Doo isn't going to emerge and solve this riddle. It is plain and simple: we are too overprotective of our kids, and we rely on the system and television to raise and take care of them. Not to say that is the case with every parent in the world, because it isn't. But to those parents who lobbied McDonalds for advertising unhealthy food to kids... who is purchasing it for them? Are these kids, en masse, charging into McDonalds, overtaking the place in some kind of Lord Of The Flies apocalyptic nightmare? No. Parents take their kids to McDonalds because it is cheap, easy, and fast.
What if those very same children ate McDonalds and went to the park after to burn off the calories? Not the same problem, really. But they don't. They get planted in front of the television to either play video games or watch professional athletes hock Skittles all day. And now that most of their diet is comprised of sugary drinks and sugary food and not much in the way of "real" movement, what happens? They are energetic and destructive and are promptly medicated for their erratic behavior.
Quite frankly, if Sidney Crosby is raising all of our kids, we should be much more worried about the state of parenting than what commercials he's featured in.
Kids need to be kids. They need to get scrapes and bruises. They need to eat terrible food and break a few bones. They need to run around with friends, have adventures, inspire their imagination, and most importantly: engage with the world. If we are so concerned with keeping them safe, we're just creating new problems, blaming it on athletes and "the magic image box," and not dealing with the core issue: more active parenting.
Nobody's perfect and no one ever will be. I'm not saying we need to spend all day every day with our kids. With the current economic downturn, that isn't easy. But, when problems occur, why don't we look in, rather than out? The world we live in is more or less as safe as it ever was. Just because we watch television and see violence in the news does not mean it is happening everywhere all the time.
And, if it does, why don't we stand together as a community and fix things? Rather than pleading for the government to form a committee to see if it might be possible to perhaps ask another committee to oversee a sub-committee to consider the possibility of maybe policing the neighbourhood a little more. It's wasteful. Remember, back in the day, when a neighbor would help you build a barn for a case of beer? You know why that doesn't happen anymore?
It is because we refuse to cooperate with each other and instead rely on the system (i.e.: the government) to take care of everyone. Kids need to be kids. Adults need to be adults. Let's take back responsibility and, perhaps, risk a scraped elbow for the chance to have a little more adventure in our lives.
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