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Teenworthy: One Way You Should Go Old School

Published on: December 30, 2013

Aidan's brother, going old-school
Aidan's brother, going old-school

As a typical high school junior, I’m a big fan of technology, but there’s one traditional way of doing things that beats the old: Getting the newspaper in its physical daily paper form.

Parents, I’d recommend it as a way to help kids and teens broaden their world view, and to provide material for family discussions.

The physical paper can lead us, your kids, to read things outside of our interest areas or develop new ones. For example, after coming across an article in the Business section (on my way to the Sports section) about a video game company, I’ve been inspired to start reading the Business pages more often.

Sometimes parents and teens struggle to find conversation topics. With the paper at home, there is always fresh material for family discussion. Articles on current events and trends provide new topics to talk about every day, and everyone can find at least one article that they find interesting. The format also lends itself to more in-depth learning than the short bursts of news we see on the Internet.

Recently, I came across an article lying on the table about Edward Snowden and how he was trying again to gain asylum in Russia after an initial, unsuccessful attempt.

After reading the article, I was interested to hear what other people thought of him, and I asked my mom, who was also at the table, what she thought about the whole NSA ordeal. I brought it up again later during dinner with my dad and brothers as well. Everyone had something to contribute, and I came out of it feeling like I knew more about it than even just reading the article.

Not surprisingly, it is becoming more common to read the news online: According to a Pew study, 55% of New York Times readers, 48% of USA Today readers and 44% of Wall Street Journal readers, go online to read their “paper.” But reading something on a tablet seems more private than reading a paper. With a paper you can see what the person is reading about more easily, so it is more natural to start a conversation with them.

There are also occasionally articles that are a bit discomfiting, and they can be a good way to talk to preteens and teens about sensitive topics such as sexting, video game violence or eating disorders. Conveniently left open on the table, the article will most likely catch their eye and draw them in. Parents can then introduce the subject in a conversation using the article, which is less awkward than asking about the topic right out of the blue.

In a world of ever-increasing technology, the paper has always been a staple in the kitchen, and even if kids start with the comics, having it around can lead them to explore topics they might not have otherwise seen, go beyond the headline-based format of Web news sites, and provide a venue for sensitive topics.

208Aidan Weed is a high school junior who lives in Seattle. He enjoys drumming, lacrosse and video games, and his favorite subject in school is Latin.

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