Generational Changes: Are Our Kids Better Off?
Is the Tree of Knowledge blooming or getting root-rot
Will the next generation be wiser or merely more technical minded?
It's probably true that in every generation, there will be people who look at the youngsters of their day and say "What are kids today coming to?" I hear it frequently these days that modern media and technology are dumbing down our children. What will anthropologists and historians of the future say about this young next generation?
Let's look at just a few things...
Convenience: We're living in an age where practically everything revolves around speed and convenience. Computers; Cell phones; Texting; And all sorts of other toys. All this allows us to work and play with an instantaneous impetus that was impossible in the past. We can work from home or wherever we happen to be with a laptop and phone. We're never out of contact with the rest of the world. If the urge to speak to someone (Or to text them) hits you, you just whip out the cell phone and call immediately. Internet information is available at anytime time, any where, with just the touch of a button. We can carry 10,000 downloaded songs with us, so if the desire to hear an old favorite suddenly occurs, with can just put on the earphones and listen to it. Everything is quick and convenient today.
The Question is...Is that good or bad? Convenience is always nice but is too much convenience ultimately damaging? Is it ever better to have to wait? Is there any advantage to taking a trip to the library as opposed to googling? Never being out of touch with a job is very productive but is there a psychological toll to taking business calls while you're at lunch with your friend or spouse?
Suppose you're angry and you're thinking of calling someone immediately to tell them off. What do you do? You pull out the phone and send an angry text (Since Texts allow you to vent without having to be yelled at in return) My question is...Is it better to have a cooling off period? Maybe the time it takes to get home to the phone will give you an extra half hour to reconsider saying something you can't take back.
Privacy: Is privacy becoming a forgotten thing in modern times and if it is, is that a bad thing? Is blogging a cathartic exercise that allows people to vent and get the opinion of strangers, or is it a desperate cry for attention? Is the fact that people will say private things in public while taking on a cell phone (Things you wouldn't normally say in front if strangers) a sign that we're losing our sense of public shame? And should we lose it?
Social skills: Is a generation of children who spend more time online than playing out in the street a good thing? You might say they'll learn more online. On the other hand, you could argue that developing people skills is just as important as googling information online. Someone could make the case that kids online are learning to interact on the Net. But some experts say that it requires face-to-face conversation to learn proper ways of interacting. Listening to another persons tone-of-voice and seeing their facial expressions is a vital part of learning to size up the person you're speaking to. Also, the anonymity of the Internet has a tendency to breed rudeness and aggression, since it's easy to avoid any repercussions on the net. You just have to put someone on "ignore" and they are gone forever. You can't do that in real life. Also, is the increasing obesity rate among children connected to the amount of time they spend online, as opposed to playing 'Tag' or climbing trees?
And what about dating? As many people meet online now as they do in person. Since we are in such a lawsuit oriented culture, social interactions in the office and in public are often restricted and hesitant. And we're also too busy in modern times to date just for fun. No time to lose! So we do the online dating thing in our spare time. Its a very businesslike and logical way to choose a perspective mate. Is it a good thing? It certainly saves time, but aren't some things worth spending time on? Is internet dating just a convenient way of denying that we're losing our face-to-face social skill? Is the high divorce rate connected to all this?
Basic skills: Most kids under 18 (and even a few in college) have no idea how to write in cursive, except for their signature. Is it necessary to write in cursive? Is it really necessary to write in cursive? Maybe not. But some child-development experts say its a good way to improve a child's hand-eye coordination. Also, people who can't write script, can't read it. Of course, if cursive becomes obsolete, there will be no reason to be able to read it. But is it a good thing that a whole generation will soon be unable to read a hand-written cursive letter that was written by their parents 30 years ago? Or is it irrelevant?
Research: Clearly, its quicker and more convenient today to do research than it has been in the past. Kids don't have to leave home to be able to look up any type of information. Surely that's a good thing. Of course, some people might argue that there are things kids shouldn't have such easy access to. Should a 10 year old be able to view porno just by clicking "Yes I am 18 years old"?
Media violence: is the amount of violence in movies and--even worse--in video games, desensitizing the next generation to actual violence, or is that merely a myth started by stodgy old timers who like to complain?
Who can say where all this will lead? What will the future say about the world that the next generation will make? Time will tell.