I seldom talk about the current generation of kids; however, I worry a great deal. In fact I find myself shaking my head a fair amount. Unfortunately I think I’m shaking it figuratively only to discover it’s far more overt than I imagined. I’ve spoken about the fact that these kids are not able to make simple change, many cannot tell time if the device does not have a digital display, are not able to read cursive handwriting, etc. Are these skills vital to one’s life? They are probably becoming obsolete. While frustrating, I am able to deal with these inadequacies.
There is a far larger disconnect in progress. I admit to being a highly distractable person. It’s in my genes. No matter what I do to temper it, I’m unable to rid myself of the inability to focus. I’ve learned many coping mechanisms. But life these days has the ability to drive a distractable person crazy. Our society has become so dependent on our electronic devices that we face dangers that never before existed.
Here is a simple example. I enjoy watching sports-related programming on television. It’s become far less pleasant for me as the journalists sit and talk and check their phones constantly. That is highly distracting for me as a viewer and I wonder how they are able to maintain a train of thought. I also realize they are receiving up-to-the-second news, but is it that important?
Another example is my increased vigilance when driving because today’s kids often do not look before crossing streets, walk in the middle of the road, ride their bicycles with earbuds in and while texting; this doesn’t even touch the licensed drivers who are glued to their devices. Do kids even know there are pedestrian rules? They could care less. They don’t have to know. Whatever happens will never be their fault. Our society is creating a generation of kids who needn’t be accountable for much of anything.
I digress (too much). I read an article the other day that spoke of the increasing tendency of near-sightedness in children due to their constant use of hand-held devices and video games. We still don’t know how much their hearing is being affected by constant use of earbuds. The art of face-to-face conversation is dying. I see kids walking to school together, heads down with total focus on the smart phone.
Communities laud educators who teach kids to make movies and create all sorts of snazzy electronic presentations. That’s nice, but these kids are unable to construct simple sentences. What passes as handwriting is largely illegible and reading for pleasure is no longer a treasured pastime. Kids are overbooked with play dates and activities. They have very little downtime and creative play seems to be a thing of the past. iPads have become today’s babysitter. Is this what we really want?
And while we complain about our own educations, at least we were taught to sew a button back on a garment, cook, use tools, balance a checkbook, etc. All of those classes are now frequently cut from curriculums because they are considered not to have merit. Are you kidding me? Bring them back along with driver education. We feed these kids with horror stories in health classes about drunk driving, drug use, and irresponsible sexual activity. That hasn’t seemed to work. Let them work in a school garden and create real food from what they grow. Have them spend time in elementary classrooms reading to children and engaging with them in creative play.
I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t have kids because they would never have been over indulged, they would have had regular chores and responsibilities, they would have had to assume responsibility for ownership of today’s gadgets and, above all, they would have been accountable for all of their actions. In short, they would have been miserable. How sad is that?