Hastened and Flawed Development


In the past twenty years, a growing trend in the rushed development of tweens has risen causing preadolescence to no longer exist as shown in the articles written by Kay S. Hymowitz, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of the urban-policy magazine City Journal, and Kathleen Hoover-Dempsey, teacher of developmental psychology at Vanderbilt University. The first hand problem of this rushed development is explained by David Elkind, who Hoover Dempsey quotes in saying that there is a “tendency among many adults, families, and institutions in the United States to hurry the development of children” (30). Due to what is happening, tweens have abandoned “childhood” things that they once enjoyed and loved such as “posters of adorable puppies and the drawings from art class” (Hymowitz 190). Kids are longer being just kids, they are growing up so fast that they almost miss their childhood altogether in a sense. It is almost like they were never a kid to begin with. Although this trend has been occurring for quite some time, an abundance of new factors such as the impending struggles with physical appearance due to makeup, the rising maturity level in television shows and movies, and the detrimental effects of the video games that have trapped our children expressed considerably in the articles by Hymowitz and Hoover-Dempsey, have led to a more rapid growth of maturity in children during this time.

Makeup brands such as Covergirl and Kiss have manipulated the self-image in many teenage girls. Makeup feels necessary and evokes a feeling of sophistication in younger girls. It is no longer something fun to do for some, it is something that they feel that they must do in order to feel pretty, as well as feel older. Hymowitz brings in thoughts from Lottie Sims who is a teacher at a middle school. Sims states, “You cannot count on one hand, the girls not wearing makeup. Their parents don’t even know. They arrive at school with huge bags of lipstick and hairspray, and head straight to the girls’ room” (qtd. in Hymowitz 192). Girls have let the devastating effects of the makeup companies change how they feel about themselves and have let a feeling of insecurity control their lives. This feeling of insecurity has led to the use of more make-up which has caused a feeling of maturity in these young girls. Peer pressure has also played a huge part in the emphasized use of make-up. As Hoover-Dempsey states in her article, children that spend a lot of time when their friends are more likely to compare themselves to their friends. If their friends are wearing make-up, they are wearing make-up. The peer group can become an awful thing in a child’s life to where they are almost forced to grow up so that they will fit in with their peer group. Through make-up, this has become an even bigger issue of the rushed development of children.

More modern television shows and movies are no longer rated the same way in which they once were. Things that were known as “taboo” things in PG and PG-13 movies are now being seen frequently in these movies, whether they be action, romance, or comedy movies. Language and violence have increased in these movies heavily compared to what they used to be just even ten years ago. Hoover-Dempsey mentions in her article that “children’s learning is influenced by what they view on television” (30). This explains why children have developed many habits of adults such as the vulgar language they use and the violent acts they commit. Many of these children do not even act as “young kids” anymore. This has also led to many children believing that violence and other things are okay, because they often believe that what they see on television is reality, even though the majority of what they watch is fictional. According to Hoover-Dempsey, parental control over what is watched in the home is extremely vital in the development of these children. She claims that if the parents are cautious about what they’re kids watch, the kids will be less swayed by what they see in the media.

Video games such as Halo and Call of Duty have caused a negative effect on children due to the overbearing violence showed and participated in by these young boys and girls. These games are no longer harmless games like Pac-Man and Super Mario that many people once enjoyed. Along with television, these new games have made children lose their sense of discernment between what is real and what is not. Hoover-Dempsey states in her article that “the amount of aggressive behavior they manifest has been linked to viewing programming with violent content” (30). Due to this violent content, many kid’s behavior patterns have started to be negatively affected and they are now participating in “adult” crimes. Hymowitz tells of many crimes that have occurred in kids of the early teen years. They have left their once loved “child” activities and started in a new degrading pattern of more “adult” activities. Although video games might not be the direct cause of this new interest for crime, it has still caused a negative growing maturity in children.

As can be seen, the rushed development of tweens has made a negative impact on their lives whether or not that was the main cause behind it or not. These brands might believe that what they have done has helped kids in some way, but in reality has damaged their lives in a way that can never be repaired. As Hymowitz and Hoover-Dempsey stated, make-up, television, and video games have joined together indirectly to hasten the experience of childhood. Preadolescence is no longer a thing that exists and has simply disappeared without even a question of what happened to it. Kids are missing out on the childhood that should be one of the best parts of their lives let alone one of the biggest. They will grow up without having the childhood they deserve because of the terrible effects of the media mentioned in the articles by Hymowitz and Hoover-Dempsey.

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