Friday, April 26, 2013

Is it easier or harder to be a teen in the twenty-first century?


 

Twenty-first century teens believe they have it made. With one touch of a finger, they can travel the world … nay, the galaxy. They're in constant contact with friends and family via cell phones, computers, and social networking. New advances make all these devices and internet groups the place to be.

So, twenty-first century teens must have it easier than teens from say the twentieth century. Right? Do they really have it easier?

What about personal relationships? What about spending time exercising not only their bodies, but also their imagination?

With all these technological advances, other problems have cropped up. School violence has increased; predators use this new technology to lure children of all ages away from safety. Bullying via the internet causes panic. All this has taken away some of the simpler pleasures today's teen's parents and grandparents enjoyed without a second thought.

Oh, the days of running barefoot in the grass, from sunup to sundown. There were no parents texting or calling every hour or so, to see if we were okay. We arrived home in time for supper – home cooked not take out – sweaty, tired, and happy.

For those lucky enough to live in the country, it wasn't unusual to spend ours fishing with a cane pole in a nearby creek. Catching lightning bugs in a jar was a favorite spring nighttime activity.

What you ask? People actually spent time outside after supper. Oh yes, we did. We walked the streets. We played football or baseball – the time of year wasn't important, just the joy of being with friends. We rode bikes without helmets or knee and elbow pads, all after the sun set and the day was supposedly over. Television wasn't the totality of our existence; it was brief entertainment for an hour or two a day. No ear buds provided non-stop music; we talked with our friends.

And we could walk along a road without being afraid of a stranger abducting us.

In many ways, today's teens grow up far too fast. They no longer have the sense of adventure to discover things on their own. Think what our world would be like if no one figured out how to program a computer, if Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn't take their paths in life because they were having too much fun on World of Warcraft. Where would we be if the internet never blossomed into being?

Perhaps in protecting our children from the big, bad world, we've also opened them up to more dangers. They don't know how to make sensible decisions. Presented with a bottle of booze or a joint at a party, how many will risk ridicule from their peers and say no? Will they turn down a challenge to race along a deserted road? It's time to walk away from the technological advances and run barefoot in the grass, ride a bike along a road, and swing from a tree branch. It's time to make it easier for twenty-first century teens.