You Asked For It! What You Should Know About BoysNBC ID: AR7NQCYQA6 | Media Type: Aired Show | Air Date(s): 04/25/2014
Event Location(s): Today New York Studio | Description: EJ 10:39:03 CLIPS: Clips from the movie “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps” featuring actor Eddie Murphy. GFX: Graphic of the book “Strong Mothers, Strong Sons” by Dr. Meg Meeker. GFX: Graphic of the book “Boys Adrift” by Dr. Leonard Sax. Dr. Meg Meeker and Dr. Leonard Sax join Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb live in Studio 1A. HODA KOTB: So ridiculous. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: So how much does the saying, "Boys will be boys" really ring true and why are they like that in first place? HODA KOTB: Doctor Meg Meeker is the author of Strong Mothers, Strong Sons and Doctor Leonard Sax is the author of Boys Adrift. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Welcome to you both. HODA KOTB: Hello. DR. MEG MEEKER: Thanks for having us back. DR. LEONARD SAX: Thank you. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: No matter what we like to think, they-- they are different. I'm sorry. I have a boy and I have a girl and they could not be more different. DR. MEG MEEKER: They just come out that way, don't they? KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Yeah. DR. MEG MEEKER: They-- they're wired differently. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Yeah. DR. MEG MEEKER: You know, and the great thing is we have studies to show all that, too. So any-- anybody-- any mom who's raised a girl and raised a boy, you-- you know, you know they're-- you try to do the same thing and they're completely different people. HODA KOTB: What are the pitfalls that parents fall into when they're raising sons, things that they-- they shouldn't be doing? DR. MEG MEEKER: Well, I think that in this day and age, we parents, we tend to-- and I know Doctor Sax probably sees this too, we tend to what I call hyper-parent. We focus on that-- a lot of the superficial things, make sure we build them a good resume, make sure they get to the right soccer team, football team. But I think that fundamentally to get boys to develop a strong identity and character, every parent needs to be able to answer three questions in the boys. What do you believe about me, how do you feel about me and what are your hopes for me. Now, you can't answer those questions on a soccer field or in a classroom. But if parents spend enough time with their kids to answer those questions over the years, that' where you develop a really strong boy who knows who he is and he' ready to launch. HODA KOTB: What do you think, Doctor Sax? DR. LEONARD SAX: My big concern is that parents today are unsure about what to do with all the strains. I'm seeing so many boys, five years, fifteen years of age, what they want to do in their spare time is play video games-- KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Hm-Mm. HODA KOTB: Wow. DR. LEONARD SAX: --and sit in front of the screen. And the parents are like, well, all the kids are playing Grand Theft Auto, so I guess it must be okay. And I'm like, it's not okay. HODA KOTB: It's not. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: It's not. DR. LEONARD SAX: It is your job to turn the device off. HODA KOTB: What does it do to kids who-- what do you think it does? DR. LEONARD SAX: It shifts them away from the real world to the virtual world. HODA KOTB: Yeah, right. DR. LEONARD SAX: I'm seeing this over and over again. Mom's like, hey, you're in tenth grade, your grades are going to be on your college transcript and you're up at two in the morning playing Grand Theft Auto. HODA KOTB: Yeah. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: They get addicted to it. DR. LEONARD SAX: Doesn't that matter he says no? HODA KOTB: Right. DR. LEONARD SAX: He-- he's much more into being the first in his group to finish all the missions in Grand Theft Auto. HODA KOTB: Oh. DR. LEONARD SAX: That matters more. Accomplishment in the virtual world of the videogame now matters more than accomplishment in the real world. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: That's so-- HODA KOTB: It's wild. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: --so scary. DR. MEG MEEKER: There's another really important thing that's spending so much screen time does for boys, not just videogames, but even on internet. It's very isolating. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Yes. HODA KOTB: Yeah. DR. MEG MEEKER: And even though they say I'm on Facebook, I'm connecting, they're not. HODA KOTB: Right. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Yeah. DR. MEG MEEKER: They're isolating from their parents. And, again, it's really-- kids to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem need to read their parents, be with their parents, be mentored by their parents, mentored by people of older generation. You know, it's not just about, you know, sticking with your peers. So kids are very-- boys are very lonely. HODA KOTB: Right. DR. MEG MEEKER: And electronics makes them lonely. HODA KOTB: But at fifteen, isn't it-- I mean, I hate to say it, isn't it too late but aren't they going to sort of do what they want to do in some cases because they have their own iPads, their own-- DR. LEONARD SAX: Fifteen is not too late. HODA KOTB: It's not. DR. LEONARD SAX: And they shouldn't have their own devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics last October came out with new guidelines saying no unsupervised use-- HODA KOTB: But they all have phones, they have all, you know-- KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: They have their computers. DR. LEONARD SAX: Parents need to be in charge. HODA KOTB: Yeah. DR. LEONARD SAX: And parents need to say, look, you need to prioritize the real world above the virtual world. You need to be spending time with real people and turn off the devices. Kid-- kid-- girls are going to bed with their cell phones on-- HODA KOTB: Yeah. DR. LEONARD SAX: --texting at two in the morning. Boys are going to bed with these devices. They're playing videogames. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: So they're not getting good rest. HODA KOTB: Right. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: They're not-- DR. MEG MEEKER: No. DR. LEONARD SAX: There should be no devices in the bedroom. That's not just my opinion. HODA KOTB: That's the opinion-- DR. LEONARD SAX: That's the American Academy of Pediatrics. HODA KOTB: It's interesting when you look at-- at colleges and you see that a lot more girls are graduating college than boys. What's happening there? KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Boys are dropping out. DR. LEONARD SAX: In the United States today, for White, Black and Latino boys, working hard to get an A instead of a B is not cool. It used to be in this country-- HODA KOTB: Mm-Hm. DR. LEONARD SAX: But it no longer is. So across the United States, whether you're affluent, low income, urban, or rural, boys don't want to be seen as-- they don’t want to be a geek. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Right. It's that what you're seeing too? DR. MEG MEEKER: Yeah, I am and I do-- I do think that there is a subtle cultural message that we're sort of dumbing boys down. You know, men dads in particular are stupid and we sort of throw dads into orbit around the family. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: The television has done that. Films have-- DR. MEG MEEKER: Yeah, all dads on television are stupid, their-- you know, little kids laugh at them. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: The butt of every joke. DR. MEG MEEKER: And I think it trickles down to boys. HODA KOTB: Yeah. DR. MEG MEEKER: I really do. I think that boys feel that maleness is not appealing. They don't know what to be. They don't know whether to be assertive, to be kind, compassionate, whatever. So I think they're-- they're very isolated, they're very confused and I think we're dumbing them down. We need to get to-- KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Good role models for men and boys. DR. MEG MEEKER: Yeah-- and parents-- (Cross talking) KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: A lot of them aren’t have-- don't have a father in the home too-- DR. MEG MEEKER: But a great mom can take them pretty far. HODA KOTB: You're right. KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Thank you very, very much. HODA KOTB: Thanks so much, thanks.