TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 1

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. More face time, less screen time: To survive adolescence, kids need to put down their phones and practice interacting with each other.

By Cory Turner at National Public Radio

2. History texts may perpetuate stereotypes and deepen ethnic divides. The History Project is fighting bias with facts.

By the creators of the History Project

3. “Controlling wheat brings power.” Islamic State has carefully targeted farms and mills to tighten their grip in Iraq.

By Maggie Fick in Reuters

4. Because of innovative provisions in the $17 billion settlement facing Bank of America for its role in the housing crisis, families could get genuine much-needed relief.

By Ellen Seidman at the Urban Institute

5. The nation’s largest pension fund just pulled out of hedge funds, choosing transparency and accountability instead.

By Dean Baker at Al Jazeera America

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: September 25

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Beyond bombs: To truly disable Islamic State, the U.S. must outmaneuver their effective use of social media.

By Rita Katz in Reuters

2. The Truth Campaign has pushed teen smoking to the brink of a welcome extinction and helped create a new breed of marketing.

By Malcolm Harris in Al Jazeera America

3. Xi Jinping has urged reform to China’s corrupt political system – and he should heed his own advice.

By the editorial staff of the Economist

4. A new program focuses on training people to recognize and manage their own biases instead of reprogramming those biases out of existence.

By Leon Neyfakh in the Boston Globe

5. Will marriage survive the recession? Economics and education are major factors in the declining marriage rate.

By Neil Shah in the Wall Street Journal

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY first jobs

Marissa Mayer’s First Job Was Working as a Checkout Clerk. Tell Us Yours.

Did you have a terrible first job — or a summer gig that launched a career?

Everyone has to start at the bottom of the ladder. For Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, that rung was the County Market in Wausau, WI, where she worked as a grocery checkout clerk the summer she turned 16. She told Fortune,

I learned a lot about family economics, how people make trade-offs, and how people make decisions on something fundamental, like how to eat. And, quirkily, I picked up the habit of turning all the bills in my wallet to face and be oriented the same way, because we needed to do this as we counted out our tills at the end of our shifts. It still bothers me to this day if a bill in my wallet is turned the wrong way.

At MONEY, we’re looking for the funniest, grossest, and most heartwarming stories about first work experiences. Tell us yours. What was your first job? What did you learn? What advice do you have for kids today?

Tweet us at @Money with #firstjob, or write us using the form below, and we might publish your response. (Answers may be lightly edited for length and clarity.)

TIME

Most Teenagers Believe Porn Is Damaging. Could Sex Ed Be The Answer?

Teen Computer
Getty Images

A new poll of teenagers in Britain shows that many think porn leads to unrealistic or damaging views about sex

The rise of online pornography has long worried researchers, feminists and parents about the toll easy access to graphic images would take on young people.

It turns out, young people are grappling with the same concerns. A poll released on Wednesday by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a British think tank, asked 500 18-year-olds about their views on pornography and its impact on their lives. The results aren’t pretty.

Most of the teens polled said that “accessing” pornography was common throughout their school years, with many starting around the ages of 13-15. And, according to the poll, a whopping 72 percent of 18-year-olds surveyed believe that pornography leads to unrealistic attitudes about sex, while 70 percent believe that pornography can have a damaging impact on young people’s views of sex or relationships.

Negative feelings about porn and its impact were more pronounced among teenage girls. Nearly 80 percent of the young women polled said that porn puts pressure on girls to look and act a certain way. Meanwhile, only 18 percent of the young men strongly agreed with the statement “pornography encourages society to view women as sex objects,” compared to 37 percent of young women. But the overall majority of teens — 66 percent of women and 49 percent of men — said they believed “it would be easier growing up if pornography was less easy to access for young people.”

“This new polling data shows that pornographic images are pervasive in teenagers’ lives and that young women in particular are acutely conscious of how damaging they can be,” said IPPR associate director, Dalia Ben-Galim, about the poll’s results. “It paints a worrying picture about the way online pornography is shaping the attitudes and behavior of young people.”

So what can we do about this issue? It should be noted that in the U.K., internet providers are now required to block explicit websites as a default — people who want to remove the blocks in order to view porn must opt in. Yet it’s obvious that teens are still finding access to pornography and it’s a cause for concern for many of them.

One way to address the concerns could be found in another question from IPPR’s poll. When asked, the vast majority of the teens polled — 86 percent — said they thought that “sex and relationship advice should be taught in schools.” Now some form of sex ed is already a part of British public school’s curriculum from the age of 11 onwards (though parents do have the right to withdraw their children from parts of the course), but perhaps these courses should be tailored to actually address what teens are seeing in pornography and the way it impacts their lives.

It’s also possible that by age 11, it’s already too late. Miranda Horvath, a psychology professor at Middlesex University in London who has done research on pornography, told the New York Times earlier this year that kids would benefit from some form of sexual education before they actually encounter pornography:

One of our recommendations is that children should be taught about relationships and sex at a young age… If we start teaching kids about equality and respect when they are 5 or 6 years old, by the time they encounter porn in their teens, they will be able to pick out and see the lack of respect and emotion that porn gives us. They’ll be better equipped to deal with what they are being presented with.

According to IPPR’s poll, teenagers are looking for help dealing with the pornography that clearly isn’t going away. It’s just up to educators and policymakers to listen to them.

TIME Drugs

This Is What Pot Does to the Teenage Brain

Cannabis Supporters Hope For Legalization
A participant smokes a marijuana joint while marching in the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Sean Gallup—Getty Images

Experts say teenage use is on the rise

The number of teenagers who smoke marijuana is on the upswing, and those who do smoke pot may face a decline in brain functioning, psychologists told attendees at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention last week.

“It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth,” said Krista Lisdahl, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in a press release.

Lisdhal’s presentation acknowledged that experts don’t agree on whether pot harms adults, but, she said, all evidence suggests that frequent marijuana consumption harms young people, whose brain development may be altered by the substance. Addiction, car accidents, chronic bronchitis, and decreased life achievement are the most likely among the potential consequences of teenage marijuana consumption, according to a presentation by Alan Budney, a professor at Dartmouth College.

The conclusions come in light of recent data that suggests more and more teenagers are using the drug. A recent study found that 6.5 percent of high school seniors smoke the drug on a daily basis, compared with 2.4 percent in 1993, according to Lisdhal’s presentation. Lisdhal, who is also the director of a brain imaging and neuropsychology lab, said nearly a third of young people reported smoking at least once over a month-long period.

The conference presentations drew their conclusions from surveys of other findings in the field. And, while Lisdhal said there’s “controversy in the adult literature,” the presentations suggested that there’s pretty clear evidence that marijuana consumption harms young people.

MONEY Shopping

Parents Worry More About Back-to-School Shopping Than Bullying

Chewed Pencil
Chip Forelli—Corbis

Students themselves, meanwhile, are most stressed about having to wake up early for school in a few weeks.

The back-to-school prep period is a particularly stressful time of year for parents and children alike. According to a survey that was commissioned by the coupon site ebates and is being released this week, nearly all of the adults and teens polled said that the start of the school year was stressing them out in one or more ways.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the teenagers surveyed overwhelmingly said that they were most concerned that school would mess up the leisurely (lack of) schedule that they’re enjoying over the summer. The top two named sources of stress for teens were “Waking up early to get to class” (cited by 69% of those polled) and “Getting too much homework” (64%). Rounding out the top five were “Not liking my teachers” (42%), “Not having the right clothes” (32%), and “Not fitting in” (31%).

The top back-to-school stress point for adults, on the other hand, was “Shopping for clothes and school items,” cited by 56% of those surveyed. The stress of shopping outranked hectic student schedules (50%), helping with homework (38%), bullying at school (31%), and bad teachers (29%).

At first glance, the results indicate that students and parents alike seem to be saying that shopping and having the right clothes are of higher importance than potentially huge problems like bullying and subpar teachers. Are most of us really that superficial?

Maybe, maybe not. A closer look at why consumers are so stressed about shopping shows that the big concern essentially comes down to money rather than pressure to be up on the latest fashion trends. According to data released last week by the National Retail Federation, “the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, up 5 percent from $634.78 last year.” The typical family with a high school student is expected to spend even more, $682.99.

Given the hefty back-to-school bill parents are facing and the fact that, for example, students are now expected to arrive at school in possession of 18 items on a classroom checklist, on average, no wonder shopping is stressing so many families out right about now. More than half of parents said that their No. 1 concern about back-to-school shopping was simply not being able to afford everything they’re expected to buy.

What’s more, it must be pointed out, many of these stress points are related. Parents and kids worry about shopping and clothes at least partly because they’re concerned about bullying and fitting in at school. And bullying and bad teachers, while possibly disastrous for the student experience, are far less common, one hopes, than the problem that seemingly every middle-class family budget confronts: affording all the stuff our kids want and/or that our kids’ school requires.

Nine out ten Americans in the ebates survey said that they’ll save during back-to-school shopping via coupons, discounts, and sales, among other methods. Retailers understand that consumers are primed to look for back-to-school deals at this time of year—in fact, many stores launched back-to-school offers before the last school year even ended—and virtually every Sunday circular is filled with school-related sales and deals lately. So no matter what your student needs to prepare for the fall, there’s almost no reason to pay full price.

If you’ve held off so far from making some or all of your back-to-school purchases, there’s good reason you might want to wait a little longer. No fewer than 16 states are offering sales tax holidays this summer, with the vast majority waiving sales tax on various back-to-school purchases for a few days around August 1.

TIME Parenting

Kids Value Success Over Caring Because Parents Do

The co-author of a new Harvard study reveals what parents can do to increase their children’s caring quotient

Last month a team from the Harvard Graduate School of Education issued a study—based on a survey of 10,000 middle and high school students—which showed that teenagers value achievement more than caring, in large part because they think their parents do. The authors described a “rhetoric/reality gap” in which parents and teachers say they prioritize caring, but kids are hearing something different.

The study drew quite a lot of attention—most of it focused on this key finding: Eighty percent of the students chose high achievement or happiness as their top priority. Only 20% picked caring for others.

I recently circled back to co-author Richard Weissbourd, a psychologist, co-director of Harvard’s Making Caring Common Project and a father of three, to explore what parents can do to increase their children’s caring quotient.

1. Given economic realities today, it seems understandable that parents are focused on their children’s success. And yet the underlying premise of your study is that focusing on success is a problem. Why is that?

We are not making the case that achievement and success are not important. It is “Success at what cost?” that we are concerned about. We are seeing a rise in depression, anxiety and drug use in kids, especially in affluent communities. And a big factor is the pressure to achieve.

These kids are strung out. We’re also troubled that achievement comes at the cost of caring for others. In life we always have to balance our concern for others with our concern for ourselves. If you are playing basketball, you have to pass the ball. If you are studying for a test, it is important at times to help a classmate. But we are moving too far in the direction of self-interest.

2. You and your colleagues have created a guide to help parents raise “ethical caring kids,” Your first suggestion is to “make caring a priority.” How would you advise parents to do this?

It begins early in kids’ lives. When you’re at the playground, it means tuning into other kids and encouraging your kid to do the same—to reach out to a child who doesn’t have anyone to play with, for example. Ask your kids to write thank you notes; require them to be respectful to you and other adults; don’t let them fudge their community service; make them honor their commitments (if they’ve RSVPed yes to a party, make them go even if something more preferable comes along). It is the quiet, subtle, daily, steady stream of messages that parents give their kids that matter.

3. You say parents should “provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude.” Can you explain?

Kids should pitch in as a part of everyday life and not expect to be rewarded. This means they should set or clear the table, do the dishes, pick up their clothes, take the garbage out. Save the rewards for uncommon acts of kindness, like helping a few neighbors dig their car out from the snow. Caring is like playing an instrument or a sport; you have to practice it all the time. That’s how it becomes deep in your bones—it’s how it becomes a part of who you are.

4. Kids naturally care about their family and friends, but you say parents need to expand “children’s circle of concern.” How do we do that?

It is harder for kids to care for people who are different from them: Boys may not care about girls. Privileged kids may not care about kids who are struggling. Kids may not care about people with disabilities. Teaching them to care for those who are vulnerable or marginalized is important in and of itself, and it also is the basis of justice. There are always opportunities to talk because these issues come up all the time—it’s about what’s on your radar. It’s not letting your kid treat the bus driver, or custodian or waitress as if they are invisible. It is the way in which you steer a conversation about the new kid at school, or point out an unkind act you witness on TV. It’s just noticing and having the conversation day to day.

5. You suggest that mom and dad each “be a strong moral role model and mentor,” for their children because kids learn by watching the actions of adults they respect. Can you elaborate?

One of the big pathways for kids to become moral people is that they want to be like their parents. Parents have to live these values—they can’t just espouse them. Teens especially have razor-sharp antenna toward hypocrisy; they are attuned to when we are not doing what we say. You have to be appreciative of the bus driver and the waitress. You have to help a neighbor. You have to not tell “white lies” a lot. And you need to listen to your kids and connect your beliefs and values to their moral questions. You also have to be willing to learn from them. Sometimes they are going to have a more mature moral understanding than you do. As parents we need to be able to admit our mistakes and talk about them. The goal is not to demonstrate that you are perfect. The goal is to demonstrate that you are an imperfect human being who is committed to becoming better.

6. Your final suggestion is that parents need to “guide children in managing destructive feelings.” What do you mean by that?

When parents around the country are asked how they help develop their kid’s morality, they usually talk about teaching kids right from wrong and core values. But the reality is that by the time kids are 5 or 6 years old, they usually know the values and have a general sense of right and wrong. The problem is that they sometimes have trouble managing their behavior when they feel angry or envious or ashamed or inferior or helpless. That’s what causes them to violate others. The key is to give kids a range of strategies to help them manage these difficult feelings—from teaching them to take a deep breath or a time out to learning how to ask for help from a trusted adult.

7. You and your colleague reported that 96% of parents from earlier studies say that developing moral character in children is “very important, if not essential,” but that 80% of the teenagers you surveyed said parents “are more concerned about achievement or happiness than caring for others.” Besides role modeling the right behaviors, what can parents do to make sure their kids are getting the message they mean to be sending?

Parents often tell kids, “The only thing that matters to me is that you are happy.” They are not saying, “The only thing that matters to me is that you are kind.” Changing course is about changing the steady stream of messages—verbal and otherwise—that parents are sending their kids. The truth is, our children’s moral development is much more under our control than their happiness.

8. The irony about your study is that although happiness is rated as more important than caring, most experts agree that caring leads to happiness. So should kids be more caring because it will make them happier?

I don’t think we should tell kids to be caring because it is going to make them happy. I think we should tell them to be caring because it is the right thing to do. But I also think that caring is going to make them happier in the long run, because when you are more empathetic, you have better relationships. And it is really deep relationships with people who you appreciate and who appreciate you that are perhaps our most important source of happiness in life.

I should also note that in our study,caring was ranked second by a high percentage of teens. Almost all kids say that caring is important to them. But it gets sidelined with all this pressure to achieve. It is evident that kids—and their parents—value caring. It just needs to be drawn out more. It needs to be prioritized. That is the encouraging part of this.

TIME Japan

Japanese City Urges ‘Smartphone Curfew’ on Teens

Teenagers in Kasuga are facing lonely nights after education authorities advised a nightly ban on smartphones between 10pm and 6am

The education board of a Japanese city has said junior high school pupils should stop using their phones after 10pm, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In the city of Kasuga, education authorities have encouraged students to surrender their phones to adults between 10pm and 6am Though the board has support from local schools, there are no penalties in place for those who disobey.

A survey conducted by the Japanese cabinet office in November and December of last year found that over half of students aged 13-15 owned a cell phone.

Of the 52% that did, nearly half owned a smartphone. This is a staggering leap from 2010 when only 2.6% of those with cell phones had smartphones.

The Japanese government has voiced concerns about excessive internet use amongst children. Their website warns of the risks of such use, citing cyberbullying, leaks of private information and use of pay sites as possible examples.

This latest campaign by authorities in Kasuga came after discussions with parent-teacher associations concerned about smartphone use amongst teens.

Posters and leaflets have been sent to the city’s six junior high schools asking them to observe the ban.

Kasuga’s campaign follows the city of Kariya who started a similar campaign, with a curfew of 9 p.m., in April.

[WSJ]

TIME Israel

Israel Mourns 3 Teenagers Found Dead in West Bank

Israeli leaders have accused the militant group Hamas of their murders

Israel held funeral services Tuesday for three teenagers found dead in the West Bank on Monday. Tens of thousands came together to mourn the boys, who were the focus of a two-week search.

Israeli leaders have accused Hamas of abducting and killing the three teenagers, Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship.

Blue-and-white Israeli flags covered each of the young men’s bodies. “We are burying a child today, a child who could have been the child of any one of us,” said Yair Lapid, the Israeli Minister of Finance. “Therefore he is indeed the child of each and every one of us.”

 

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