My observations on American Culture
90's Kids VS 2000s Kids; my view of things
Today I'm going to show the differences between kids from the 1990s era and those from the 2000s era, and how I think they both have their pro's and con's and how technology has changed the way people reminisce about the past, as well as its impact on culture and, most importantly, maturity levels in children and preteens.
How Things Have Changed
Its incredible how many things can change between 1990 to 2010. Only 20 years have passed, yet it almost seems like they are two different worlds. Things got significantly smaller yet more powerful. Kids started migrating more indoors than out to have fun. You would no longer be a geek or nerd simply for owning a computer.
And the internet became widespread.
Before, there would be a wider gap for things to change significantly. Even in the Industrial Revolution things would not change as fast as they do now since communication was much slower than the almost instantaneous speed of today. Today, a text message can out-speed an earthquake, while 100 years back, it would be considered fast to have something sent by the same amount of distance in only 7 days.
But there's no need to go back in time so far. Lets just look as far back as 1993. Then, the fastest thing was an E-mail. It would be sent only slightly slower than a text message (or at the same speed), but had to require a cumbersome computer, and one would only read said email once on a computer, unlike a today's widely used (and significantly cheaper than when it first was available) text message. Data has gone up, while data rates have gone down.
However, for adults, this is just another passing of era's. However, for youngsters, this determines how the future will be. The impact of these changes, most notably technology, on two generations only a few years apart, is profound. First, lets take a look at how children in the 1900s grew up to be and how their environment was.
Such a short while ago, yet it seems so long. Anime began to really catch on in America. The Internet started to really grow (and towards the end of the decade, we saw giants like Google and Newgrounds begin to rise). Video games were at their prime. CGI began to take greater flight in movies. We slowly transitioned into a greater use of the cellphone, which was more commonly used just for talking with than anything else.
Children born in this time were stuck in a strange yet pleasant limbo of tech. Technology did not quite yet over-run our lives, personal privacy was still not a big issue, and things were fast - but still slow; a sort of paradox in a sense.
The 90's, if anything, was nothing more than a transition period to a new era; and yet, it was great in itself, if not better than the new era it helped usher into existence.
Kids who grew up in the 90's tend to have more patience than those born in 2000+, reason being that, although they had vast amounts of information slowly growing into their disposal, they still had to deal with things like dial up, or for their (insert relationship of person here) to finish using the phone. Not only that, but DVR's were not free with cable subscription, nor as widespread as later on, so for the most part, you either had to wait through the commercials or be forced into multi-tasking by switching between to channels. Not to mention that when it came to projects, Libraries were still a good resource (and kids had to carefully read what they were reading since there was no "copy-paste" function).
On the other hand, the 90's paved the way for a further gain in childhood obesity. Whilst children of this decade were not too greatly affected, those born near the end of it and those born after the year 2000 had technology influence their lives to a much greater scale: as time consumption for technology went up, physical activity went down, and keeps going down. It has become so bad, that it is estimated 1 in 3 kids born after the year 2000 will develop diabetes.
Back then, young girls still had jump ropes and hula-hoops, not cellphones and laptops; back then, little boys had light-up tennis shoes and scooters, not iPads and iTouch's.
True, there were video games, but even those were more helpful than today's video games. In fact, if anything, the 90's environment helped reading.
Video games helped reading because back then, only few games had actual voice acting, and if they did have any, it would be at a minimum. You wanted to beat the game? Better know how to read. The faster you read, the faster you got to the end. Now, that has been widely replaced by a much greater use of voice acting.
Children who experienced this era were also much more social than those born after the decade. This seems like an ironic statement with today's wide spread use of social media, but I have my reasons. Mostly, it's because unlike today, back then you had to directly interact with people. You can't hear tone in a text. You can't read body language over Facebook. You can't go out and play with other kids with an iPad. You wouldn't have been able to tune out the world with a small and highly portable MP3 player, which could play hundreds of songs for hours. You could focus on your surrounding without being at the mercy of your phone.
And the phone, ladies and gents, is one thing which has greatly changed social interaction among children, especially among girls. Now, there is such a thing as phone addiction. You take away a phone from a young girl, and unless your her parents, she beings acting like a person whose cocaine was taken away. I wish I was kidding, but have experienced this a great too many times. It's true that not everyone is like this, but my point is that this was virtually non-existent for girls of the same age in the 90's. They wouldn't spend their time looking at a phone screen, but looking at the actual people around them, and thus interact. Not only that, but texts were not the norm quite yet, so teenagers that did have a cellphone for the most part talked, and practiced the human ability of interpreting tone.
A big negative that began to greatly expand in the 90's among children, however, is a more profound effect of desensitization. While the internet and technology might have been slower in the 90's, it still was a vast breadth of uncensored knowledge. The lack of empathy is any societies greatest plague, and the 90's brought upon that plague to America's children.
With the panic and "threat" of Y2K over, we entered into a new millennium, one which we glimpsed at from the previous decade. Children and teens from the past decade have either grown into adults or become teenagers. Children born into this era expected results fast, had information delivered to them fast, and were, in a sense, enslaved by the very technology they grew up with.
The internet, during this time, started going through a major makeover. Google changed the way people searched for things, text messages began replacing a good deal of vocal communication, and Myspace/Facebook allowed the world to interact more with complete strangers whom they would not physically meet and less with actual people. Children grew up with a plethora of knowledge and with the ability to find data instantaneously, and they have come to expect that of the world around them. This naturally causes a development of impatience, as they have only received things fast.
Children in this time also have become over-dependent on technology, and some have even become addicts. In this decade, tech became a double-edged sword; the ability of a human to multi-task increased, the amount of knowledge that can be acquired jumped exponentially. Yet, at the same time, the amount of time spent on the more useless features of the Internet - such as using Facebook - increased far more than the amount of time used to learn something useful such as, say, how to build something or how something works among child users. Interaction with the real world lessened overall, and imagination became duller as videos replaced books.
The kids brought up in this world, for the most part, grew up used to a virtualized world.
It is not until this new decade that we are in now that technology and the real world are beginning to interact more commonly (such as with the Google Glass Project).
One thing that can't be denied is the major cultural shift in America in regards to how people interact. Within the time span of two decades, we went from a society that values and prefers interacting with people physically to one that prefers to interact with strangers or familiars through a medium. Businesses began taking all applications online instead of meeting with a person who wanted a job (save for interviews); friends now notify all their other friends of what they are doing constantly; people started losing the time for as so much as a small chat (whether in person or over the phone) and have since replaced it with a quick small text message (which tends to be rarely eloquent or articulate); Isolationism has increased.
But not only that, but something else, something very interesting, has changed. Children and Teens have achieved more authoritativeness, since the possibility (or sometime illusion) of being heard by others has increased. Societal revolutions tend to be weaker or stronger, since social media can both promote laziness to act or help actions organize in a way they never have before.
Just as incredibly, however, is how fast children are exposed to the "adult" world. This has led to a strange warping of mature content and interpretation in kids that has resulted from mixing the innocent mind of a kid with a rapid and vast tidal wave of information that is typically learned from experience.
More Mature Content, Less Mature Kids
The biggest problem is not whether or not Children and preteens are maturing to soon, it is how they are maturing. The major difference between 1990's and 2000s is over-sexualization. Now, its true we had rapping artists who promoted sexuality in the 90's, but there's two main differences between that decade and the one after it:
1) Not as many children listened to rap as they do now and the 2000s decade and
2) The internet was not as widespread.
The internet, if anything, is what has caused the jump in this. The adult content easily available in it, mixed with the lack of tech savvy parents, is what helped fuel this. Youtube, and lets not forget Google (so easy to accidentally find porn there if safe search isn't on) only help further spur this.
Not to mention how Facebook and other social networks helped kids interact with older teens and young adults.
You would at least think that all of the real word problems and items easily available on the internet would at least make children more mature. On the contrary, since it is not accompanied by experience, it only ends up causing more desensitization, more sex (curiosity impregnated the cat) at an earlier age, and a difficult time transitioning unto other stages of life since, for the most part, there is no general "easing in".
We end up with children who are the equivalent of an innocent alcoholic; they crave the lure of sex that is shown everywhere, and once they have, go crazy because the transitioning period flew out the window.
I'm not saying this is an isolated problem. I'm saying that the kids in the 90's still had a chance to be kids, whilst kids in the 2000s ended up being a strange hybrid which will probably lead to societal problems in the future. That chance to be a grow up, that chance to be a kid, due to the very nature of things now, has been mostly vanished; left as a great task for parents to accomplish, if they are lucky enough to do so.
Personally, I believe the 90's were better.
However, I don't condone technology, I also embrace it.
If anything, I think this coming decade, the 2010s, will also be a good one, perhaps better than the 90's, or at the very least set the pavement to the next great decade. Why?
The 90's still had balance between the real world and the virtual one.
The 2000s changed that by moving us into only the virtual world.
But Technology evolves, and as we have seen, it evolves rapidly, and it is taking us back to the real world through the use of augmented reality. It is letting us take back control of out lives, and not be ensnared by its status updates and pokes and reminders - but instead, letting us interact with each other once more; letting us be with those near us physically and those far away virtually at the same time. Society will hopefully improve and learn to coexist with this new style of living, rather than juggling reality with virtuality back and forth as in the 90's or being consumed entirely by one or the other in the 2000s.
If anything, I hope best that a brighter future lies ahead for Us, for America, for the World, and for Children across the globe.