Kids These Days

My mom is a fifth grade teacher, and she recently shared an article with me that has had me thinking. In the article, the writer essentially said that kids today spend so much time inside--online, watching tv, playing video games--that the outside world is alien to them, and they're often frightened of things that kids who grew up even a decade ago aren't afraid of.

This led to a big family discussion of kids these days. My father mentioned that many kids can't read analog time--they're too used to digital. My mom pointed out that cursive writing is often not even taught to students--they just learn typing. And don't get my husband started on the latest fashion trends.

I find this kind of talk interesting--because, of course, my mind starts whirring with possibilities. Kids scared of the outside? Imagine a pod world, where everyone stays inside their own pods--and then what happens when the pods break down? No ability to read analog time? Let's throw those futuristic kids into the past, where they have to deal with all the old stuff we've moved on from. Cursive writing is indecipherable? How cool would it be if the code language was just regular ol' cursive?

I'm a reactionary writer--I write "what if" and I spin my worlds out of control. But I also find it interesting to think about what really will happen if our world keeps going the way it does. Will cursive writing fade out of existence? Will we lose our love of the outdoors?

What will happen to kids these days?


Hildred Billings said...

I, personally, am all for the destruction of cursive handwriting. :P It would make reading other people's (apparently older than me) notes so, so much easier.

I can remember sitting down to take the SAT a few years ago, and the administrator told all us older teens to copy the agreement on the cursive. Cue a half hour cursive lesson because half the students in there had no idea how to write cursive (not that this means that they couldn't read it, but as somebody studying Asian languages sometimes recalling letters to write off the top of one's head can be impossible) and I'm just sitting there wondering what the point was. Then again, we could go on a whole spiel about the status of the education system today but I digress.

Today's youngest generation is the first to grow up entirely "digital", unlike mine where it was prevalent but many of us didn't have access until halfway through childhood. I actually think it's pretty exciting. There'll always be kids/adults who love playing outside and save the books and video games for car trips (or hover trips?) I never was one myself, nor am I today, but then again it's been 100 everyday for the past month so I don't know why anybody would go outside!

Oh my, look at that mini-dissertation, haha. :D

Mandy P.S. said...

Anytime I think of a society that's afraid of the outdoors I think of Isaac Asimov's Caves of Steel. Fantastic novel where the Earthlings have major agoraphobia issues.

As for "kids these days", whenever people complain about them/us (I'm 24, so depending on who you talk to I'm still a "kid"), I get really huffy. Cursive? Completely useless. I have never used it in my life except when signing tests like the SAT and GRE. But the fact that I learned typing in the 2nd grade (before I learned cursive in the 3rd) was fantastic. I type faster than anyone I know--practically verbatim in meetings--which is far far far far far more useful.

As for kids these days being afraid of things kids a decade ago weren't--don't they have a right to be? I was a high school freshman when 9/11 happened and it changed the world. I was the same age as Natalee Holloway when she disappeared (both high school grads). Heck, modern kids aren't even allowed to go door to door selling stuff for fundraisers anymore because of how dangerous it is.

Not that the world wasn't dangerous back in the day, but now we know its dangerous because of the media.

And this is why I find things like Memento Nora and V for Vendetta very close to home. The world is a scary place, and it wouldn't surprise me if people were using that against us--to control us.

Tere Kirkland said...

Heh, aside from the cursive, kids are already starting to implement their own languages that make typing easier. Not just text talk or leet speak, but a full-on internet shorthand. Drives me CRAZY!

For now, having a well-composed comment shows your level of education or the way you want others to perceive you. In the future it might make you come across as an arrogant jerk. It's all relative, which makes writing about the future so much fun!

Great post, Beth!

Jaime Morrow said...

I have to say, it makes me really sad that cursive is on its way out. I taught junior high English a couple of years ago and was stunned that only ONE of my grade nine students knew how to write cursive. I just find cursive so much easier than printing everything, but whatever. The disappearance of cursive makes me sad the same way email has replaced the more personal and creative snail mail letters I used to look forward to getting in the mail. Obviously, email is more convenient and I use it all the time, but still... It makes me sad that ebooks exist, even though I own a Kobo ereader and use it all the time. I miss the feel and smell of regular old books, and whenever possible try to stick to them (old book smell is easily one of the best smells in the world).

I think you're right, Beth. While there are enough similarities between us and 'kids these days', it's the differences that make for some interesting story ideas! On the topic of kids inside using technology for everything: I stumbled across this interesting list of stats relating to students and their dependence on technology ( Very interesting (I thought).

Diana Julianna said...

Hmm, Beth, I see what you're saying.

I'm a teen myself. And trust me, those problems your parents mentioned? ABSOLUTELY HAPPENING.

But... I'm kinda out of the norm. I can still read analog time. I write almost everything in cursive. I dress just like how I dressed ten years ago (er, the coverage, not the size).

And this post really got me thinking... you (and your parents) are sooo right! I think a lot of people has forgotten that technology isn't flawless. I remember my neighbor throwing a tantrum when the internet went down for five hours and I could hear him yelling two houses away. And I feel like so many kids rely on technology nowadays until they cease to remember anything else.

Which, in turn, leads me to my last point. Your "what if" reaction? COMPLETELY DITTO HERE! I think this problem would make a great dystopian novel, if handled correctly, and I think you can definitely execute it firmly. :)

So, in conclusion: While I agree with you and your parents, there are still those kids (like me, hopefully) out there who haven't forgotten that nothing is perfect, not if technology. Books are a wonderful to bring people back to that realization, esp. if they see a possible outcome if technology failed.

More the power to books.