Childhood aspirations and "the real world" shouldn't mix early

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It is common for parents to tell their kids to reach beyond their limits and follow their dreams. Not many expect them to try after something as ambitious as climbing to the summit of the world's largest mountain.

In May, a 13-year-old boy by the name of Jordan Romero not only contemplated the action, but summited Mount Everest with the help of his father and stepmother. His story has now inspired other younger people to try the same, such as nine-year-old Tseten Dorje, son of Sherpa Pemba Dorje, who holds an Everest record of his own.

At first glance this endeavor seems quite impressive, but looking at the facts, is it ethically responsible to lead a child into a situation with so many uncontrollable risks? Shouldn't the boy be given the privilege of being a kid before he has to work hard and put his life on the line for a goal that may turn out to be just another record in the book?

Everest has become more accessible to climbers since it was first summited in 1953. The dangers of unforeseen avalanches and oxygen depravation are still present and even the best climbers are taking a gamble with their lives. EverestNews.com states in the educational portion of their website, "Frankly we cannot think of any more dangerous activity on earth!"

Now not every kid or parent chases after this wild task, but it has become a growing concern that kids are being introduced to harsh realities not unlike the cold elements of Everest at a young age. This can be seen in being overexposed to media and surrounded in competitive school environments. Many of these kids are losing their sense of imagination and are instead hit hard by the downfalls of reality.

Students are meant to meet these issues as they approach college and "the real world." The land of childhood should be reserved for dreaming, before having to live independently after finishing one's education and discovering of one's life plans. According to a recent study, kids between the ages of 8-18 are being exposed to an average of 3.16 more hours of media than they were 10 years ago. The influx of technology mediums and accessibility to children has brought an abundance of information to their small hands. This can be a good thing in terms of education, but also allows information usually shifted through for viability by adults to enter naive minds that do not stay that way for long.

A 2009 Sunday Times article quotes the author of "The Price of Privilege" as pinpointing at-risk youth as being those who are being thrown into the competition for success early in life. By the time they do reach 18 and get ready to pursue their plans, the little climb left in them may be replaced by resentment.

I am not saying that children should be kept in a bubble or deterred from their aspirations, but instead that they should be allowed to experience nature's timing. When a camera is exposed to light before it is developed at the correct time and place, the ultimate picture is often ruined. I would really hate to see this effect on the future generation.

Sarah Greufe is a freshman journalism major from Ardmore, Okla.

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