The Problem With Kids Today Is…

I gave a Ted talk related to this topic that you can view.


Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 10.10.00 AMWhat do you expect to finish that sentence? Should we blame violent movies and video games, that ‘misogynistic hip-hop music’, poverty, the lack of discipline, selfishness, cell phones and the internet, or just good old-fashioned godless heathenism? Is there any truth to any of that or does it just ‘feel right’ compared to our preconceived beliefs? Are we just trying to avoid cognitive dissonance or is there really a problem unique to ‘those damn millennials’ as is so often heard on the very same social media that is being decried (irony?).

So in the face of mounting rants about the problems of this generation in the wake of another senseless tragedy I want to look at whether there is truth behind it. Are the kids worse of today than in past generations? And, if so, what is to blame for the problem? Would those railing about ‘the death of America’ and complaining about coddled snowflakes and selfish brats still feel the same after some reflection and remembering they were called the similar by their grandparents? Has the internet, cultural shifts, and terrible parenting made this generation uniquely disrespectful despite all the cute kid videos we find on YouTube? As a teacher and parent of that generation, while being old enough to not be part of it (cusp of Gen X/Gen Y), I may be in a unique position to see?

Has It Changed?

The truth is times have changed in a number of ways and the youth along with it, but our epheiphobia, fear of young people ruining our previously pristine world, is nothing new. People used to blame dancehalls, rock music, tv, and then the ‘reefer’. Now we blame cell phones and Instagram feeds. Sure, there are definitely some ways the world and kids are different simply due to access and a world made smaller by technology. One major shift though seems to be that the fear (or call it anger/disgust) of this generation actually seems to be more intense than when our parents and grandparents criticized us. That has to have an impact on those who are the focus of that effort.

ca2e2948eff9fa5340f2d7d462afcb47.jpgI understand the desire to look at a generation attempting the cinnamon challenge and looking for more likes and followers as altered for the worse. There may be truth to that sentiment, but I think it’s important to dig past these anecdotal events that we can all easily point to simply because it is all documented. That is a major change in that we can see it all easily. How much more would I have been judged by my parents if my stupidest moments could be searched easily on the web (some probably can be)? People talk about the fortitude and work ethic of the greatest generation, and there’s a fair amount of truth in that pride in those who fought Nazi Germany and built the interstate highways (don’t start me on modern infrastructure). Most of them are gone now as is much of the Silent Generation that followed. Now baby boomers reign and are casting down the younger generations the way they had previously been criticized. In some ways, they’ve earned it simply by aging, but are they right about this group?

i-didnt-vaccinate-my-kids-and-the-one-who-lived-11830656.pngI look at the image of a bygone time where children worked in mines and relaxed with a good smoke, not as a sign of ‘hard-working determination’ but rather a generation that was less enlightened. So all those statements about the dangerous things you did, running with scissors and riding in the backs of trucks, and how you still turned out fine, are meaningless. I’m glad you weren’t hurt or traumatized, but your anecdotal experience doesn’t make it truly the better way at large. Creating reasonable safety regulations like mandatory seatbelts and no lead paint aren’t ‘wussifying America’. It’s making us smarter. So let’s put aside that hyperbole and look at what may actually be causing some current challenges for today’s children.

Perceived Problems

I have long worked (13+ years) with high-needs behaviorally challenging students. I’ve definitely had challenges during that time (cursing, violence, threats, etc.) that have made it no picnic. I’ve also learned how to manage those challenges so they rarely occur anymore and my classroom has become a safe and effective place to teach those kids. I can’t compare it to 30 or 40 years ago except by my own experience as a student and my mom’s conversations about her work with at-risk students. There were definitely some differences, but, then again, I grew up in an educated middle-class home. That is not the case for most of my students. In the 80s though, my mom had major issues with gangs and violence in poorer Chicago-area schools that make it seem like they may have even been worse in certain regards.

Violent Media

violent-video-games_xx-100154502-largeIt’s part of our nation’s long tradition that when any new form of media arises it will be blamed for some of society’s ills. Once it was comic books and music then tv and movies followed by video games and now cell phones and the internet. What technology will cause tomorrow’s wrongs? The governor of Kentucky blamed violent video games for the Parkland shootings.

It is true that we seem to have a lot of violence in (American) film and tv, but is it that different? I watched Robocop (1987) as a kid and it was ridiculously violent. And don’t try to tell me that Bonny and Clyde (1967) and Cool Hand Luke (1967) don’t glamorize violence and criminality. In fact, The Passion of the Christ (2004) is one of the most violent movies in the last 20 years, but that violence seems to be regarded, by some of those same critics, as important and necessary elements of a great film.

In music, didn’t The Beatles delve into drugs and even Wake Up Little Susie (1957) was banned for its suggestiveness. Those almost seem quaint now. Is it just another level? What do studies show? Actually, video games (event some violent ones) have been shown to actually decrease aberrant behavior. It works as a catharsis where children are able to exercise emotions (like ragefully killing a dragon or being cruel to your sidekick) in a safe environment. In fact, research suggests violent video games and music don’t show any link to hitting, carrying weapons to school, or gun use. Something in the study that did contribute to violent behavior was home violence (beatings and the like), but we’ll get to that later.


100842711-Children-arguing.jpgConcern For Self

People look at kids staring at their phones and think, they are so much more selfish. I have to agree in one way that kids do seem more concerned about themselves than previous generations. What I mean is, that according to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) kids are doing much better to take care of themselves. They smoke and binge-drink less. Teen pregnancy rates are down from 5.9% in 1993 to 2.3% in 2015. Part of that is that children today are less likely to have had sex early and more likely to use protection when they do. Drug use among teens is generally down except for weed which we have chosen to legalize and use medicinally in many places. That is despite the opioid crisis amongst those 20 and older.

There are some major negative factors though. One is that today’s children are less fit. Part of that may is due to decreased physical activity (more later). The other is diet which has to do with marketing and eating decisions made more by the adults around them. Teen depression and suicide rates, though much lower than the 80s and 90s, have begun to rise again as well. I’ll discuss that under mental health (also more later).

Concern For Others


In 1954, Newsweek ran a cover howling “Let’s Face It: Our Teen-Agers Are Out of Control.” Those teenagers are now the grandparents (and great-grandparents) of today’s ‘rowdy hooligans’. So were they poor parents or did they raise their kids to be poor parents? Or can we lay this at the feet of modern technology and a changing culture? That same Newsweek in 2016 wrote an article about how what youth really wanted from the world was less racism. So obviously comparing the two eras over social issues is bound to be fraught with controversy.

All in all though, today’s youth also seem to have a greater concern for the world around them than previous generations which may have to do with being in a more connected planet. Millennials are more charitable on average than previous generations at the same time and it’s clear that their activism is beyond that of most previous eras. You may or may not like their progressive ideas on immigration or the environment, but they are more likely to help people unlike them possibly because they are more likely to be a minority themselves.

Granted there is one study that points to young people (specifically college students) having less empathy, but the methodology is highly debated and relies only on possibly unreliable personality surveys. For example, it could all be explained away due to changes in content vocabulary and increased self-awareness. All the articles about a lack of empathy in this generation seem to reference that solitary study.


As Young Women, Silents Were About Twice as Likely as Millennials to be Out of WorkforceIn addition to the other ways young people are connected, young women seem to feel an entirely renewed sense of strength and opportunity in today’s world. While millennials are less likely to want to engage in war, women are more likely than ever to serve in the military.  They’re also more likely to join the labor force.

This work along with other ways women are changing society makes men of a certain ilk feel at a loss. Is it a tricky area to navigate when successful workplace romances are still common in movies and the real world? Yes, but women have been navigating that sensitive ground for quite some time (don’t hurt his feelings while expressing disinterest, open to love but not assault, etc.), and I think highly enough of (some/most?) men to think they can figure it out.

Behaving With Reckless Ignorance

Millennials On Track to be the Most Educated Generation to DateI know this is supposed to be where I lament about TidePods and the stupidity of youth. Doing stupid things when you’re young though is not a new thing. Jan and Dean sang about Dead Man’s Curve in 1963. In fact, the risky behavior seems hardwired into teen minds. It may even have some positive implications if its part of their effort to separate their life and understanding from that of their parents to help them become a more independent individual.

This is not an ignorant and uneducated group. They are, in fact, on track to be more highly educated than any generation before them. Now might be the moment you debate the quality of common sense vs. education, but youth has always been the time for exploration even of the unsafe.

Perhaps the current generation has become more creative and sensational (think YouTube challenges). Yes, part of that is because there is a medium to broadcast their ignorance and to view the recklessness of others. Part of the new creative danger though might be because we’ve reduced most of the other risks and young people are safer from all other possible injuries including those in a car.  The one notable exception seems to be an increase in infant suffocation, so I guess we can lay that on the parents for putting in extra blankets against pediatric recommendations.

Don’t Go Outside

kids-outdoors.jpgThere is solid truth in this one. Kids spend less time outside than they used to and for that reason, they are generally less physically active. Part of this can be laid at the feet of modern technology like the internet and mobile devices who draw their attention away from outdoor activities. Although some technology companies are using those same tools to bring people back outdoors. Take the Apple Watch and games like Pokemon Go as examples. Cell phones and video games can’t take all the blame for this though.

Right now children are given less freedom than ever before. It can be monumentally frustrating. We tell kids to go outside more, but kids aren’t allowed to go to the park by themselves anymore and the parents who send them on their own are arrested. Why? Because we’re scared of all of the crazy abductions we’ve heard about despite the fact that we are living in a safer time for children (despite mass shootings) than ever before. As for abductions, they are incredibly rare, are usually committed by a family member, and frequently end safely. You should still teach your children how to deal with strangers and the like. Stranger abduction does still happen, mostly to girls over 12 and for the horrible reason you’re probably thinking. But vigilance doesn’t require us to hide our kids inside while still complaining about the fact that they’re always in there.

One of the other reasons children have less freedom is the new popularity of helicopter parenting. I get why some parents feel it necessary. Children are getting more homework and have high-stakes testing that will supposedly ‘shape their whole life’. So we schedule highly structured play dates and shuttle our kids between a dozen activities that will make them look ‘well-rounded’ on an application. We need to get our kid into that coveted slot in that superior school so they can get that good job because we see how opportunities are slimming (a problem discussed below). I get it. There’s value in some of it. We should take an active role in our children’s lives, and we should try to engage them in many opportunities. But we shouldn’t be overbearing to the point where they are incapable of independent decision making. They need to be free to occasionally fall and fail and learn from it.

Always On Their Devices

edu_news.pngDo kids use their devices often? Yes. Those devices, given to them by their parents, are enticing and even addictive. But they are not unique in that way either. They are better at using them, but there is no shortage of use from their elders. In fact, most of my Facebook feed seems to be made up of hourly meme posts from retirees, but that may say more about me.

The amount of time a child spends on a screen though is far less important than how they are using it. Not all screen time is equal. Reading ebooks and writing a school essay is not the same as updating your personal Snapchat feed. These same devices that are criticized as the bain of modern society also bring opportunity. They lead to employment opportunities, charitable contributions, continuing education, connections to other cultures, and sometimes love. The very same millennials who, due to their crumbling structure, have become more detached from institutions are remaining networked to their communities via those devices and social media. So a blanket criticism and a ban of the very devices children will be using in their adult lives to achieve success seems short-sighted at best. We do need to address the problems inherent to the devices, but that’s what my many posts on digital citizenship are about.

No Discipline

When-Child-Discipline-Becomes-Criminal-300x200.jpgMy Experience

I go out regularly with my kids and people at other tables feel compelled to comment on how amazingly well-behaved and smart they are. I kindly say thank you or make a joke about how we give them medication for that. Inside my mind though I’m thinking, “they didn’t do anything special and they weren’t even that quiet as we were telling each other riddles. It’s just that the bar seems to be pretty low.”

I don’t let my kids play on a device at a restaurant table (even though I myself have occasionally been a hypocrite). I don’t judge those who do occasionally use it. There were times early on where, while we waited for food, I played learning games on it with my then 2 or 3-year-old son. That was usually only if there wasn’t a kids menu or some other means to entertain ourselves quietly (and I learned sword fighting with chopsticks can’t be done quietly). Was my family that unique though?

I make a concerted effort to create positive independent thinkers in my home and classroom having learned about tools and methods to do so. So perhaps I am in a unique position, but a lot of what I’m doing is similar to many other parents I see. At least those who aren’t burdened by poverty or an over-crowded schedule. It helps to have a support system which was a challenge as I don’t live close to my family, but there are other resources available.

Parental Shift

Parenting has changed from previous generations to be something less punitive, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Studies show parents now are more engaged in their children’s lives (see helicopter parent above), are more likely to praise positive behavior, and more likely to be happy parents. That doesn’t mean they’re not disciplining their children, but many are choosing to discipline in a manner that shows more long-term effectiveness.

I’m not going get into a long-winded discussion of whether spanking is good or bad. I will say though that punishment and discipline are not even close to the same thing. It’s the difference between inflicting a penalty for some past wrongdoing and training and correcting actions for the future. One provides love and security while the other is a matter of frustration, fear, and hostility. It’s the difference between smacking and screaming your 3-year-old who doesn’t yet fully understand and who runs into the street instead of kneeling down looking them in eyes and seriously explaining that to get to 4 they need to slow down and be more careful. Then you hold their hand (even if they don’t want it) to prevent it from happening again.

r_752222_XSmAM.jpgI know that’s a fairly simplistic example, but anything more would have added too much to this already long post. Having been fairly successful disciplining easy-to-manage (my children) and hard-to-manage (my students) children, I can say unequivocally that, though consistent consequences for negative actions are necessary, harsh punishment is not. I’m not allowed to spank a student nor do I need to in order to find success with classroom management. I’m not telling you to spank or not to spank or whether I do it with my children. It is the difference though between using intrinsic motivation and external reinforcement and punishment.

The point is, if you see spanking as the only solution or the only tool in your kit then you are missing out on a lot of what could improve your children and your life. When you are a hammer everything looks like a nail. The people who post images of a belt or a switch saying, “let’s get back to this because I got it and I’m okay” leave out so much even apart from it being criminal. Don’t think I mean to equate spanking with beating. I am stating this for those who do equate the two and still see it as a positive thing.

Dad-about-to-spank-child-©-Can-Stock-Photo-Inc.jpgThe fact is harsh physical punishment has been shown to be counterproductive. That’s part of why I won’t call home for some students in a negative situation because I know it will lead to that (and I do report actual known cases of abuse, okay). The beatings may get the kid to stop some behavior (playing a game, cursing, or fighting) while you’re around because they fear you or at least fear the pain. It often doesn’t stop them from engaging in the behavior but makes them better at hiding things from you. It also generally causes them to exhibit more violence themselves as they learn the way to solve something that bothers you is to hit it. Not to mention the fact that their self-esteem is crap at that point which can lead to so many other issues.

For so many of my students, I’ve had to work to correct this wrong idea of discipline that was inflicted on them. If you are in any way a reasonable person you recognize your jerk coworker can’t be corrected by you hitting them, but still you believe that works with the most vulnerable among us. That’s why I’ve always been baffled how so many followers of New Testament grace want to champion Old Testament wrath in their own home despite what some faith leaders say about it.

Lack of Religion

It is true that the younger generations consider themselves distinctly less religious. How does that manifest itself? They attend religious services less and are less certain of God, but interestingly their beliefs in heaven and hell are on par with other generations. Also their sense of connection and wonder about the universe and the purpose of life is above some other generations.

Millennials feel just as much of a sense of gratitude and feel connected spiritually, though they define that differently than previous generations. As I said before, millennials are more charitable than other generations and non-religious kids are more altruistic than their religious peers. That can even be increased by their economic level as the poor are more charitable. Didn’t Matthew say something profound about comparing the righteousness of the wealthy and putting a camel through a needle? Yet we seem to continue to esteem the wealthy as ‘chosen’ and ‘better than’, as it is what we aspire to be.

So while you may think their ultimate destination is off the mark, their time on earth generally doesn’t seem to be the issue. It may be of benefit though if we could follow the ways The Innovative Educator, Lisa Nielsen, suggests in making school more like churches regardless of religious overtones. Even the ACLU agrees the Constitution permits private religious activity in and around schools, so the claim that America forcibly removed God from schools seems far from the truth. It is just that prayers and religious activities usually should come from the students and not mandated by school officials. It may seem overly quaint, but I’ve always enjoyed the axiom that as long as there are tests kids will pray in schools.

Genuine Problems


Movie Bullies.png

Bullying isn’t anything new either and movies from many eras show crazy ways kids treat each other. Granted the methods of Regina in Mean Girls (2004) may be more subtle the girls in Carrie (1976), but the impact is the same. If I’m to believe the old public service announcement below, physical bullying in the 50s was as terrible as the acting, so it was never a good time to get bullied. In the modern age, bullying has taken on new forms through online harassment and has become a much more psychological affair with (as you’ll see in the depression section below) greater impact. Many parents are struggling to keep up with the technology to help, but there are resources available. There is help for teens also. The schools seem to be making greater efforts to combat bullying inside with anti-bullying campaigns and using technology to fight the problems it brings. For example, they teach about positive digital citizenship and Classcraft has a bullying guide overview of how they have shifted school environments and discussions.

Decreased Opportunities

The quality of life in America has improved over the last 50 years, especially for women and minorities, despite what some may argue. Even so, the current generation has challenges facing them that previous generations never had to face. There are fewer jobs available for those that don’t have the education required to get them. That doesn’t make a 4-year degree a necessity for certain good service jobs (HVAC, construction, etc.), but a good job becomes harder to find for many.

On top of that average college, debt is around $33,000 and the median household income hasn’t grown in nearly 20 years. That is in the face of increased expectations for what you should expect in a job. They don’t seem to be wholly selfish expectations either. They include regular employer benefits, steady paychecks, loyalty,  the ability to prioritize family, and a social impact.

All of that is a struggle in an environment where millennials believe businesses are focused on their own agendas rather than helping society or their employees. Data seems to back that up with corporations having record profits for years without raising employee wages. Even with the recent billions in tax savings companies have offered only small bonuses instead of pay raises while the vast majority of the windfall went to stock buybacks.

d0e.jpgTake those economic issues and put them on top of environmental and social concerns for the youth along with a feeling that their voice is being discounted and you can understand the frustration. So students feel stuck where they are and are moving less than previous generations. They live with their parents up to age 35 more and it’s not due only to a lack of work but also increased home/rent prices and overwhelming debt concerns. On one end they seem to be combatting the issue themselves for future generations as they are pushing back having kids and having fewer of them.

So before you challenge today’s kids for being unwilling to work extended hours for little money at a company that’s going to downsize them as soon as it can get an extra couple bucks, think of what it looks like to them. So I guess they don’t respect the previous generations who created this system, but maybe they shouldn’t and they’re right to try and change it. Opportunities and hope seem to be in short supply when older generations seemed to show little concern for their needs all while, with little self-awareness, calling them selfish which leads to the next problem.

Depression and Suicide


Considering all the things I’ve said prior to this section, depression almost seems like the inevitable conclusion. Depression, which is increasing amongst all Americans, seems to be hitting young teens the hardest. According to Psychology Today, “Millennials are reporting the highest levels of clinical anxiety, stress, and depression than any other generation at the same age.” And like I said before the response for many is to end their life (and sometimes the lives of others with them). Despite dropping from their high point in the 80s and 90s suicide rates are climbing again.

The Conclusion

431027_367266206640397_150185415015145_1202518_1554047737_n.jpgWhy is the outlook so bleak for them? Some of it is general teen angst and feeling ostracized by their peers which is only exacerbated by having that problem continue when they get home in an online community. Then they can feel there is really no place to escape. It can’t help though that we seem to be calling them the problem too. We’d rather ban cellphones and complain about social media on social media (isn’t it ironic, don’tcha think) than teach it’s proper use. Then we lament about violence and mental illness but offer little in terms of solutions except for possibly arming teachers which is a discussion I can’t even begin now (as I’ve already had it too many times).

There may be some truth in the posts decrying youth but most of it is masked behind hurtful rhetoric that is an entirely self-serving way to say ‘this is why I am better even if I don’t fully underSTand society’s trajectory’.


So, in the end, I think the problem with kids today is us treating them terribly by giving them few opportunities, more stress, higher expectations, and less freedom all while calling them failures and lazy. At the same time, we are criticizing their parents more than ever regardless of what they do. Have I encountered parents who seemed to be slightly misguided in defending their children even when wrong? I sure have. Is that innately worse than previous generations of abusive husbands and fathers intimidating and alienating their family? We’re all striving to be like Jack on This Is Us. Making the wrongs of his children are no worse than those of his dad who was an abusive drunk.

We’re sending conflicting messages by creating a nation that offers them less opportunity, financial independence, or empathy while being quick to cast the blame. Is it any wonder why they feel the need to self-medicate or act out when ostracized?

I planned to connect this to the current swath of school shootings, but this is long enough already. I will work on that in a future post which will I will be moved to write as there is inevitably the next horrible and senseless murders of our nation’s children. So I suppose I’ll leave you with this one thought.

Before you post and rant about the horrors of this generation, perhaps think first on how you may have contributed to the problems that they currently face or, even better, how you personally could do something now to improve their situation.

That has to be more productive than venting online (says the guy in his blog venting online). See, at least I have some self-awareness about it.

16 thoughts on “The Problem With Kids Today Is…

  1. This is a progressive, long winded view of todays generations. It neglects the evidence of these selfish, self indulgent, kids and their parents who fix everything for their darlings at 3 years old or 30. They make excuses for their a lack of grit that these also indulgent parents have caused. These enabled, selfie generation s are shield from their consequences and never grow up. These pass on to their children an attitude and life experiences that cause their children to become entitled and the center of the universe. Parents dont want to face, or discipline their middle school/high schoolers. But they never raised them with morals growing up or any intestinal fortitude to do the right thing. The children of todays generations might have a better, more caring view of others because of racial inequality that has been hammered into them by our progressive schools,but they exercise no self control for themselves to care for who they are. They are so incredibly liberal today, and know no limits because of both the culture and a lack of morally equipped parents. We are headed for a disaster, and this is nothing like past times or past generations like you characterize. We are a morally bankrupt society that is raising a bunch of entitled brats who are given way too much. They must go to the tanning bed, get nails done, go on vacations, spring breaks, the best sport camps, live in the best neighborhoods and have all the designers clothes. They get a car at 16 without any work or effort on their part. They are used to being catered to and in my view todays parents are raiseing the most spoiled, entitled generations in many decades.

    1. Long-winded, I’ll give you that. There was much to cover and refute. You say “today’s generations”, but what generations does that include? You use the word “progressive” as some sort of pejorative as though progress itself is anathema to you. I would ask how is it you define that term. Isn’t progress and social reform innately good? I suppose it might not be to anyone who is so tightly clinging to old ways through any cognitive dissonance.

      I’m curious what you base your assertions on as you blame both kids and parents. That’s a lot of blame to go around for society’s ills. Is it data or just your anecdotal experience and personal anger? If it’s the latter, that seems to prove my point. But I will assume well of you and that it’s on evidence beyond your own annoyance.

      So let’s address your concerns.
      1. Who has a lack of grit? The young children marching for rights or the ones digitally crafting credit card skimmers? While the latter is illegal, I would argue both show grit and intelligence (though you can argue about whether it’s misdirected). The workforce (now filled with millennials and Gen Z) is more productive than it’s ever been
      2. Shielded from consequence-while there are those of means who have argued their affluenza, the children I teach and many others in impoverished communities may enjoy an occasional video game (the equivalent of recreation in any other generation) they certainly suffer consequences. The suffer the consequences of previous generations who easily got manufacturing jobs that lasted 40 years, cheap housing , and more equitable pay (if you were the right color/gender) and then allowed the greed of the 80s to exacerbate the consequences they face. Oh yeah and school shootings and the likelihood that despite college they will struggle to find decent work makes for some hard consequences.
      3. Center of the universe-Yeah, young people can be selfish, but that’s not new. Also many older people are incredibly selfish too looking out only for themselves/their small family/neighborhood. The selfishness of young people might be simply easier for you to see due to it being posted and your inclination to already view them as other.
      4. Morals-I suppose it depends on how you define morals. Ours is a nation that interned Japanese Americans, suffered the “Red Scare” and McCarthyism, and was still lynching in the 1980s. So I’m not sure what group you’re holding up as superior to today’s kids. Young kids today do less drugs, smoke less, drink less, and are less sexually active. Isn’t that moral? Oh, and despite the continuance of white supremacy in certain corners of the nation and internet, their openness to others unlike them seems quite moral too despite the fact that you call it “progressively hammered in” (as though you see that as negative, but perhaps I misunderstand you).
      5. Given All- Yeah, there’s some spoiled kids for sure. Those of parents of ridiculous means or of those who are either A). too busy keeping up with the Joneses or B). Trying to buy their child’s affection since they can’t afford to spend time with them due to economic inequality. You talk about tanning beds and getting nails done. These seem very specific as though you have a few particular kids in mind. They’re clearly not indicative of all. Many of my students are already naturally tanned. As for the best camps/neighborhoods…that also seems oddly specific, but these all clearly only speak of kids of means. So maybe that is where your issues lie.
      In the end though you make it clear by saying “in my view” to which you are wholly entitled, but I would advocate that you recognize in these situations when it is just a matter of your view.

    1. Just building personal relationships on common interests as goals are always the best means I’ve found. But the challenge is it takes to know each kid individually. I find games and hands-on activities a good start.

  2. I am sure people will condemn you for posting this. Can you imagine being a young person who is fully ready to work and has great skills but is denied health insurance and jobs for no good reason at all. Unless you have experienced the hardship young people face today you won’t get it. I was laid off about 4 times and couldn’t get married until I was 33. My husband is an ex ibm-er and is the top talent in his field. He can not find full time or stable work because companies are only hiring people as freelancers to avoid paying workers benefits. Housing costs are ridiculous. Some apartments start at $2500 without utilities and we can’t afford groceries. Our neighbors are jerks and people are rude to me especially when i was pregnant. I was made to sit on the floor of the train so some ass could work on his laptop. I got sick and i can go on and on. I was told I don’t belong at companies because I am too good for the job even though I could do the work with my eyes closed. I still have no career. We will never be able to afford a house at this rate. I pity all of you who make everything about politics, left, right, conservatism, blah, blah. It is about people, just people trying to live. Shame on all of you who condemn young people instead of teaching them and helping them.

    1. I’m not sure if you actually read (or listened) to what I said given your response or simply responded to a title that was tongue in cheek. Am I being condemned by those seeking to demonize young people or am I to be condemned for supposedly demonizing them myself? Are you attempting to echo the very financial challenges that I noted? I would almost think that, but for the final lines. Am I part of the “all of you” or separate from them in your eyes?
      I’m sorry your neighbors are unkind and people are selfish. That seems unrelated, but I could see myself going on a separate related rant about that (unless your point is that all of them were not young people which was also unclear to me). I’m curious, did this seem like a political post. I am unsure what data or sentiment I express that is overtly political (at least in this post). And I would agree with you that everything being made partisan is a major issue. But I entirely support “taking sides” on matters with clear moral implications like those related to equity of access.
      But to your final point, I end with a similar conclusion that the “real problem with kids today” is the lack of support they receive from their forebears and how we, as educators, must do better. So while I’m unsure whether your reply was agreeing with me or challenging me, it seems as though we ended in a similar spot.

  3. The point they make about Work Ethic is still really valid though, and i find it dissappointing that the article barely mentions it. Kids today are given less and less opportunities to do literally anything resembling hard work, and the moment kids take up the tiniest bit of independence or responsibility from anyone besides their parents or teachers, people like this step in, call it “child abuse” and attempt to get it shut down. Even lawnmowing and the Girl Scouts are seen as “child abuse” and placed on the same level as “child labor in the coal mines” now.
    I see plenty of young people turn 18 with absolutely no work ethic or adult life skills because they were never given any chances to develop them and were pretty much just let in front of a screen playing videogames all day, not just because of poor parenting, but also because they weren’t given any higher expectations. Talk with anyone about the importance of work ethic in teens, and they will go “Kids should be kids, they should be carefree, let them enjoy their youth etc”. Children cannot become independent if we don’t expect them to ever be independent in the first place. That’s the point the “kids these days” people really are trying to make.

    How could someone who, for most of the first 18 years of their life, was never allowed to take anything somewhat resembling an adult life problem, nor any task with impact or consequence beyond a school grade or their parents’ mood, not turn out immature and being too lacking in resilience to navigate adult life as a result?

    1. I’d be curious to know what lens you are viewing this through. Are you an older person not seeing the respect you would hope for? A younger person noting shortcomings in your peers? A parent? An educator?

      I appreciate what you express about fostering independence in young people as well as praising effort over some idea of “innate quality”, which you describe as work ethic. I, as someone who works heavily with people with disabilities, recognize the importance for allowing for as much independence in young people as possible. That includes allowing for instructive failure. And I admit I have seen parents and teachers sometimes step in too soon not allowing the space for beneficial struggle. Of course, it should be within the zone of one’s abilities and not the old school logic of shoving an infant into the ocean as the best way to swim. Clearly there is an optimal middle ground.

      Similarly for too long parents, family, friends, and even some teachers have spent too much time focusing on innate values saying things like “you’re smart” or “you’re pretty” placing value on something both subjective and unearned. Those kids who were called smart without much effort learn to believe they should automatically know things without inquiry, study, or exertion. And when they struggle, they think they are incapable or that the task is not worth their effort. Better is praising effort and hard work especially for students who may not struggle at first.

      But I actually see teachers (and some parents) recognizing that even more now than in the past. And beyond that I also see many young people with immense work ethic working hard to solve problems of pollution, inequity, injustice, or access that previous generations (like mine) have not succeeded in fully addressing. I could share a number of examples if you’d like.

      As to the games, there’s never been a shortage of ways for young people to find to “waste time” even if now it’s more digital and marketed. And there is value in allowing for the joy of youth. Some studies show that our using early learners (2- 6 yos) into rigorous classrooms without play and exploration are actually detrimental in the long run.

      And I would second guess the idea that any game playing is automatically a waste of time. The video game industry is bigger than the entire film industry and all American sports put together. Between game design, testing, esports, and more there is a viable business in gaming that young people may be preparing themselves to participate in.

      That said, you and I must travel in very different circles. I have yet to hear of anyone demonizing lawn mowing or the Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts as abusive (apart from recognizing the genuine sexual abuse that has sometimes occurred in those organizations). I wonder who of note has shared that ideology.

      So I guess, in the end, I do agree with parts of your premise and think I shared about the actual “hard work” that some young people are doing both inside and outside of the classroom especially compared to prior generations. But I would push back against some of it including the idea that “hard work” exists only in manual labor especially as far into the 21st century as we are even as I enjoy the work of my hands and as much hands-on work to those students of mine capable of using their hands. I would also ask you to consider what hard work looks like for someone like Stephen Hawking with a disability vs. someone in construction. Is one person’s work more valid than another? Does one have more impact?

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