By Anne Collier
It takes a team of strong firefighters to manage and direct a fire hose with all the pressurized water coming through it. That’s a good metaphor for today’s media, which seems to come at us at that level of pressure but less regulated than ever because produced by literally anybody; it’s user-driven, and for teens the most interesting (and challenging) parts are self- and peer-driven. So, more and more – and this is where the fire hose metaphor breaks down – the media management has to come from within. But that’s “just” media, which increasingly mirrors all of life and is embedded in it, most especially in the life of our children. Media itself is a metaphor for the complexities of being a child and raising children in the 21st century. For this media, as for life itself, external filters barely achieve anything. Parenting is about helping children develop the cognitive and moral internal filter that improves with use and lasts a lifetime.
This is where author, educator, and adviser Annie Fox comes in. She gets all parts of this equation: young people, parents, 21st-century life, and what’s involved in developing that internal filter. Her term for it is traditional-sounding, but it’s more needed and current than ever: “moral compass.” Developing and using it guides and protects us in and out of media, relationships, school, childhood, and all the rest. Annie has been helping teens use their moral compasses and parents and educators to support young people’s development of one for 30 years, and her very readable latest book – Teaching Kids to Be Good People: Progressive Parenting for the 21st Century – has that level of experience, plus wisdom, anecdotes, exercises, and compass-development tools, packed into it. I hope that by now you can tell that I highly recommend this little e-book. In it, Annie connects 21st-century parenting to the wisdom of the ages. It’s available now in PDF and is coming soon to Kindle, Nook, iBook, and print.