Is the next generation of youth in trouble?

In class on Thursday, we talked about the transformation of technology and how this has effected not only our generation growing up, but the generation below us as well.

We grew up watching T.V shows and playing game-boy. We had our Nintendo 64′s and eventually XBOX 360′s. We’re old enough to remember when Myspace was actually “cool” and relevant. While we essentially grew up right in the middle of this big technological and social media transformation, some of us also were raised by old-school parents. The parents who made us go play outside, limited our T.V hours, didn’t buy us a cell phone until we reached high school (for me, at least) and etc.

The generation below us is looked at being raised differently. They knew how to navigate an IPad before we learned how to walk. You don’t see them outside as much. If you don’t see a middle-school or even elementary school student with at least a c ell-phone, let alone an IPod, you’d kind of be stunned.

I’m not saying this is a general view of the generation below us, because I know for a fact there are still kids who are being raised the way we were and the way our parents were years back. But there is a trend in a change, and it’s not difficult to see it.

Regardless of who’s to blame–or if there even is anyone to blame if people don’t see a problem with the generation moving forward–it has to be a result from society in America.

Three years ago when I vacationed in Lebanon for one month, I didn’t have any contact with technology. Outside of some of us gathering around one person’s house who owned a 1990′s TV so we could watch the World Cup (soccer is huge there), technology is not a make-or-break necessity in that country, or at least the part where I am from, and many other parts where I stayed. Yes, Lebanon is not a first-world country like the U.S–money dedicated for technology and “luxuries” is not even a fraction of what we spend here– so its expected that the average person there experiences nothing close to what the average person here experiences in regards to media/technology.

However, kids there go to school like those here. They play outside, and are involved in activities outside their homes and computer desks, more than kids here. They don’t all have cell phones. They don’t all have T.Vs. Facebook has just recently become a “new thing”. But the youth is just as smart, if not smarter than those here.

Two different ways of growing up, and one similar–if not partially different–outcome.

These are two totally different countries with two different cultures and ways of raising kids. People in Lebanon are not particularly worried with how their new generations of kids are being raised (my opinion). Maybe a survey would tell otherwise.

But people here, especially the way we talked about it in class, think otherwise about the next generation. And some people don’t.

But well find out the real answer in the near future.

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About Joseph Saade

Journalism student set to graduate the University of Massachusetts Amherst in May 2015. Pursuing a dream career in the field of sports journalism.
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2 Responses to Is the next generation of youth in trouble?

  1. ndecaille says:

    Our conversation in class was interesting because there was a lot of speculation as to if technology was dumbing down this next generation and what kind of kids we will be raising in the future. I disagreed with the idea that somehow our children are getting slower. The generation that grew up during a technological boom were told the same thing by parents who watched them indulge in television and our first steps to exploring the internet. With that said, I would like to argue that even though children are more adept to new technology it doesn’t make them any smarter or any slower than the children from prior generations. The fact that other countries who don’t have the advantage or access to these kinds of technologies are smarter or healthier, to me, just means that we haven’t quite figured out to maintain a balance.

    Even though it was rare for a child during that tech boom to have a cell phone, the same cultural views of technology apply. Sure we didn’t have iPads and smart phone gizmos, but we did have advances relative to the time. There was still an attitude that if you had the latest flip phone or Xbox than you were someone to be envied. Being nostalgic about the “good old days” when kids played outside won’t fix the trends that we have identified. Having a generation of kids that come out of the womb knowing how to use this technology is scary, but is it that we are afraid of what will happen or an undercurrent of jealousy because they will have a lot of things that we didn’t? Every child cannot be raised the same way and we have seen those variations in our grandparents and our parents generations.

    What I also found that we haven’t been able to grapple with is how to use this technology to effectively educate about healthy consumption and media literacy. By now, a lot of schools in countries like the U.S. should have media literacy programs that teach students about on-line presence and finding reliable information. In my opinion, being pro active as these new technologies and platforms surface is more effective than simply complaining why our nations children aren’t adapting to technology and using it to better themselves. When i was growing up, I was never taught how to navigate the web. Everything I knew I had accumulated from spending hours on line. I was also taught to fear on line predators and view the internet and technology as a scary change that only old school parenting could fix, but it didn’t! I find that as a society when we see changes aren’t working to our advantage, we blame how things have changed and glorify the past as if that style of parenting didn’t have its problems. In thinking about that, the future could benefit from our acquired knowledge about the web.

    Kids are now able to build enterprises and hold the attention of an audience that differs from the past. They are not only using Facebook to build businesses that will furnish their adulthood, but also starting to encounter facets of adult life earlier. Even though I may not agree with a 7 year old having a Facebook, we cannot stop children from growing up and experiencing pieces of the world through the web. I think it will be the job of our generating to shake the yoke of what our parents did by trying to shelter us and start actively teaching lessons earlier.

  2. The youth in America (and other first-world countries) are being exposed to an unparalleled and unprecedented amount of involvement and entertainment with today’s technology. Having spent time in poorer parts of the world, I agree with you that it is nice to see kids who aren’t addicted to their iPhones (if only for lack of aforementioned iPhones). However, I would argue that these kids, as well as us, as well as our parents, are only products of their environment.

    Kids today have grown up with social media the way we grew up with the internet boom of the early 2000s. I can remember walking my grandmother through how to use her AOL email account as a little kid. I can also remember teaching my mom SEVERAL times how to use mapquest. Kids today have this kid of fluid knowledge of web 2.0; they speak it like a second language. Intimacy like that can only be obtained while the brain is in its most ‘absorbant’ years. You said yourself, our parents limited our TV hours: if they hadn’t, would we have stopped watching? I don’t know about you, but as a kid, I was good for about 50 consecutive matches of Super Smash Brothers.

    Similarly, our parents grew up with minimal technology, but are attached to the technology they are familiar with. I don’t think I could ever be as enthusiastic about Sunday football as my dad is. Not to say that i’m not as big a sports fan as he is, but just the ritual of it. In high school I would bug him constantly to just buy NFL redzone, but its almost like he enjoyed flipping back and forth between the 4 o clock games. His generation came with their own set of strengths and their own set of weaknesses. They solved problems and they caused a hell of a lot of problems that our generation is going to have to deal with. I think at the very least, approaching the problems our of parents with a fresh perspective will start us off in the right direction.

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