PEOPLE are panicking over the recently viral news of “Momo” videos -- where in the middle of a supposedly child-friendly video, there would be instructions for the viewer to hurt themselves. Parents are concerned and are suddenly banning Youtube or outright banning devices altogether.
While this may understandably be a concern for parents, I would think that banning is the wrong approach.
After all, look at all the things that were banned by your parents and by society because such things were “not good for you.” Somehow you still managed to sneak past and enjoy those things -- I’m talking about tobacco, alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, and all the many other things that were banned.
Banning does not answer why things are wrong or why people are better off not doing them. It simply raises more questions and heightens curiosity. And we all know what what happens when people are overcome with curiosity.
No, the real Momo challenge is not how to stop this thing, or how to prevent this from spreading, or how to prevent kids from seeing it; the real challenge is how to teach our kids to think critically, how to trust them to do the right thing, and how to ask relentless questions without fear of being shushed.
Unless we teach our kids that, we will always be looking over their shoulders, wondering what they are reading or what they are watching or what they are listening to. But if we know they have a good head on their shoulders (and most of them do) we can trust them to do the right thing no matter what.
Because trust me, this Momo thing is not new. It is merely the latest fad, and there will always be something that will come up later just as there were always things like this in the past -- like that video encouraging people to randomly hit strangers as hard as they can, then run away, or that dancing while the car is running video, or people climbing skyscrapers and doing dangerous stunts high up in the air.
You cannot ever hope to ban everything and unless you plan on staying beside your children and monitoring them 24/7, you had better learn to teach them to think and to handle responsibility, and to trust them, even as early as 4 years old.
If you doubt that children can handle that sort of responsibility, consider that in what we call “primitive” societies, children are trained as young as possible in performing duties for the good of society. In more modern times, billionaire Richard Branson talks about the “most important lesson of his life” happening at age 4, when his mother dropped him off miles from their home, in an area where he had never been.
She asked if he knew how to find his way home, and he said yes, and so she trusted him and let him do it. By age 12, Richard was biking alone at distances of over a hundred miles. He dropped out of college and never stepped foot in college. By 16, he had started his first business. Today he owns the Virgin Group and is worth 4.1 billion dollars.
Teach your kids to think, then trust them. Easier said than done. But that’s the challenge.
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