With this special edition, we launch a new feature of the Bulletin – Beacon Bulletin, Jr. As important as it is for adults to have accurate sources of current information, it is perhaps doubly so for the younger members of our society in that they are now beginning to form their viewpoints, gain perspectives and develop core beliefs. To that end, please welcome our newest and youngest guest writer, Meghan E. Olden.
(We couldn’t decide which of the Many Magnificent Looks of Meghan to go with so here are two of our favorites!)
Meghan is a Maryland high school student with the goal of become a professional writer. Her interests and activities include creative writing, graphics, winter color-guard, marching band and visual arts. She lives with her parents and is well protected by her one sibling – older brother, Eric, and enjoys the loyal company of her faithful, lovable family dog, Lizzy.
We realize that many of our readers are parents or guardians of children. (For the purpose of this article, we are focusing on teenagers.) Given the rapid information site turnover rate in Tech Age 5.0, and the incredible amount of data available to teens today, how and where are they obtaining critical information on which to base their forming perceptions and desire to self-educate?
In Meghan’s own words:
This summer, in wanting to stay healthy, I became more active recently. I choose an old favorite for exercise – biking.
One of my recent bike rides found me back at my elementary school from which I had graduated 5 years ago. I eventually found myself sitting on top of the monkey bars of the deserted playground that I had not stepped foot in since I’d moved on to high school. The overwhelming silence brought about reflection after I realized how different it felt. What so long ago felt gigantic – the high bars and enormous space – were now almost too small to fit me. I was suddenly aware of how much I’d changed since the last time I’d been sitting there and how much more, well, opinionated, I had become. In elementary school, I, like most children, just accepted what we were taught or had overheard/witnessed in our homes and school environments as gospel. Young children often parrot their relatives and or friend’s parents without question and with very little understanding of the words/thoughts that they are rote repeating. (As an example, my five y.o. cousin was recently playing in my living room, with the tv on in the background. A brief clip of President Obama speaking aired and without lifting his head from his car toy, he called out, “O’Poo-poo head”. I asked him why he called the President this name and he shrugged his shoulders. I asked him why he thought that the President should be called this name. He said he didn’t know. Obviously, he’d heard this comment at home, school, at a friend’s home…) I know I’m guilty of simply repeating things I’ve heard from others without question but that afternoon, sitting on those now seemingly tiny monkey bars, it occurred to me to question more. Having advanced to high school, I’m finding myself in the right environment to begin researching interests on my own and from there, develop my own opinions.
High school is a hot bed of differing ideas being brought forth, exchanged, and debated. It’s the time when people my age begin to question what they observe and begin to affirm their beliefs. In recent years, I’ve started to ask questions. I’ve begun to look at different perspectives, opinions and views. Being exposed to different ideas can be a very enlightening experience. But I also recommend starting with a neutral perspective. I learned this from watching the same YouTube video two years apart. The first time, I came in with a “this person is completely wrong, I’m sure of it.” view, and I walked away at the end, quite offended. The second time, it was with a “let’s see what they have to say” attitude and I came out of it thinking, “Hey, they actually have some valid points!”.
This also led me to thinking, we – people my age – have to learn how to find a mix of sources of information so that we can view things from different angles and determine for ourselves our beliefs and positions on important issues. In a few short years, I will be voting. I should be as informed as possible on what is going on around me, the country, the world… as possible.
To that end, I recommend the following informational sources for teens, and well, just about anyone:
Politics: http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm. provides an unbiased presentation of many political leaders and their views on different topics, as well as information on upcoming presidential candidates.
(Or if you were looking for more of a daily life and nutrition kind of site and less technical there’s http://dailyhealthpost.com/)
Personal safety: The Beacon Bulletin, of course! and (unbiased!) http://www.ncpc.org/topics/violent-crime-and-personal-safety
– Meghan Olden
Thank you, Meghan, for this well thought-out and presented piece on a teen’s perspective on information gathering and the importance of forming one’s own opinions based on accurate research. You have a brilliant writing future ahead of you.
(We will be returning to our usual format in next week’s Bulletin with the Jr. edition publishing in timely episodes.)
BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy (at all ages!)
As always, stay safe.