Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What's the Matter with Teens These Days?

According to this article at Salon, maybe teens are doing okay - or at least not as badly as the older folks lament. In particular, this commentary explores how the internet has changed things for kids these days. Teens spend a lot of time on the internet and you can't throw a wireless mouse these days without it bopping someone on the head who is in the middle of explaining that the net is melting young people's brains right out of their skulls. But, the author says, like anything else new and revolutionary, there is good as well as bad. Teens are reading. Teens are socializing in a broader world. Teens are writing about themselves without being forced to in a classroom setting:

Or is it the older generation that the Internet has seduced -- into the inanities of leveling charges based on fear, ignorance and old-media, multiple-choice testing? So much so that we can't see that the Internet is only a means of communication, and one that has created a generation, perhaps the first, of writers, activists, storytellers? When the world worked in hard copy, no parent or teacher ever begrudged teenagers who disappeared into their rooms to write letters to friends -- or a movie review, or an editorial for the school paper on the first president they'll vote for. Even 15-year-old boys are sharing some part of their feelings with someone out there.

What's interesting about reading this is that I feel I fall somewhere in between the older and younger generations described here. I was in high school when everyone started getting internet access at home, so perhaps I identify more with the teens in question than with the concerned adults. I think the internet has enriched my life in many ways and encouraged communication with friends that I might otherwise have lost. I believe my overall ability to express myself through words has improved during the years I have spent keeping various personal blogs.

Though my inner curmudgeon does rear its head whenever I see a cell phone commercial that shows teens mindlessly texting "LOL ROFL!" to each other. I am still one who thinks sometimes silence is better than communication. We need downtime to process all this new information we have access to, and understand our relationship to it, and make some personal decisions about what information we will seek out and what is not worth our time.

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