Pokmon is not the only thing to live for

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (U-WIRE) — A member of the U.S. Congress recently called for an investigation into what he feels is a serious problem facing America’s schools.
It was not school shootings, drugs or even smoking that concerned him. His worry was about reports of violence stemming from the popular PokÇmon trading cards — the pride and joy of countless teens and preteens across the nation.
Parents are up in arms over how seriously their children are taking the trading cards, which feature characters from the popular Nintendo video game and cartoon series. Schoolyard stabbings have been reported in New York and Atlanta, and thefts have occurred in almost every U.S. elementary, middle and high school. But it is ironic that so much fuss is being made over children’s obsession with material possessions when they are simply mimicking modern society.
“You have to look at (the PokÇmon craze) in the context of our culture,” child psychologist Stephanie Pratola told Time magazine. “We are all obsessed with acquiring things, and we can’t expect our children to rise above our culture.”
The desire to own the most recent fad products and gadgets seems endemic in our culture.
Whether it is driving an Eddie Bauer edition car or organizing oneself with a Palm Pilot, parents show their kids that it is a material world — variety magazines glorify new gadgets, television peddles them to the public and people go shopping.
In doing so, they breed the “I want it … now!” attitude of many children. Not all kids are brats, but today, no child in his right mind would pass up an opportunity to “catch ’em all.”
Parents’ inability to say no to their whiny offspring does not help this trend. The more cards a collector has, the more likely he is to show them off at school and consequently get jumped by jealous classmates.
It is a parent’s responsibility to let kids know that there are things in life far more valuable than PokÇmon cards.
The same mentality is found in college students who work extra hours, not to enhance their education, but to afford a new laptop, bike or piece of clothing. There does not seem to be anything wrong with taking pride in ownership in the college and business world, but when it happens as a craze with kids, people go into an uproar.
No more are the good old days when collecting was a hobby rather than a business opportunity. Adults who remember buying stuffed animals to play with should see something wrong with their children acquiring beanie animals to peddle off to a higher bidder or to enclose in a case. A childhood today is one where a toy is not necessarily a toy.
The PokÇmon collectors are doing just as their role models are doing, but they have no income, so they turn to stealing from each other and violence.
Parents should use the PokÇmon craze as a wake-up call to the lessons they are unconsciously teaching their children. The obsession the kids have is a strong comment on American society. Families are not putting sufficient emphasis on hobbies and values that are not material.
The supporters of the probe into “PokÇmania” are right that it is pointless for children to get violent over something as insignificant as trading cards, valued by kids or not.
However, the change has to start with parents, older siblings and other role models.
They need to show children that there are other activities that can make one feel good such as sports, music or arts which cost nothing.
Mariano Castillo’s column originally appeared in Tuesday’s Texas A&M University paper, The Battalion.