The Dumbest Generation

April 1, 2011
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Is the modern world of easily accessible information and open minded media the building block of a “dumbing down” of the recent generation (the millennials, Generation Dot Net, Etc.)? From the eyes of Mark Bauerlein it is. Contrary to this theory, from a certain broadened point of view, an idea of abuse comes into play. While technology can be handy, making work places more efficient, and for entertainment purposes, it can be easily abused. That’s where the negative side effects come in, compromising the proficiency and excitement that the internet provides. There are three main ideas that have surfaced around these negative side effects. First parents have begun to use modern technology as a babysitter, partially as a learning tool, but also as a 3rd parent. Secondly, scientists have linked teen violence (verbal) with modern technology, and consider it a serious issue for the younger community. Lastly, the gap between technological understandings between generations is increasing. These three ideas paint a picture of what the problem really is in our generation, and in the world.
As times get faster and harder, it is well known that parents struggle juggling jobs and babies. And their solution? Stick the kid in front of a screen! It’s a simple idea, with more complex effects. With over exposure to television and other modern entertainments, communication is diminished, creating gaps in everyday family life. This can be speculated in our everyday lives. For example, after a child has been introduced to television, he/she will want to watch more and more, cutting away at quality family time. With the increased gap in family ties, technology has been viewed negatively. Rather than blaming the parents for this problem, we are called the dumbest generation.
Another issue in this digital age is the rising prevalence of younger citizens harassing or “cyberbullying”(www.cdc.gov). Some people think that the increasing amount of violence in the media is causing youth to be more violent in general (www.cdc.gov). Much of this observed violence is online (in blogs, social networking sites, etc.), but there is some in real life. For example, school shootings have begun to happen more frequently. On the contrary, so has the slackening of parents on gun control. While sites like Myspace and Facebook change the social structure of the young, teen angst and dramatic social experiences are poured into the abyss of these new social medias. It is my belief that nothing psychologically has changed in the minds of our youth, only the tools we use in this digital culture. While these teenage activities are more easily seen online, they are not anymore or less prevalent than in generations before.
From a glance back in history, it is apparent that with new technology, older generations have trouble warping their reality to fit new ways of life. You can observe from several of the graphs from arstechnica.com that this anomaly is a reality. For example, “Generation Y” averaged 12.2 hours per week online, while older generations averaged 9.5 hours and less. In my opinion, it is really just another case of senile adults taking their regretful feelings out on the youth when they say we are the dumbest generation. This gap of understanding between the internet savvy and the less mentally equipped slows down productivity and creates a useless debate.
In conclusion, there are problems with technology that can be changed. The fact that many kids in the U.S. don’t eat dinner with their families excites an epidemic of de-socialization in the minds of our youth. So what is the solution to this quarry? Parents need to step up to the game. Parents need to know the effects of abuse of the internet, and regulate hours of screen time. While we watch people talk down to our generation, we are also watching parental supervision deteriorate. Like any young generation, we are persistant, loving, and undefined. We are not “dumb”.







Works Cited

Bauerlein, Mark. The Dumbest Generation. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008.

Reimer, Jeremy. "Study shows youth embracing technology even more than before." ars technica. Condé Nast Digital, August 1, 2006 5:01 PM. Web. 29 Mar 2011. <http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2006/08/7401.ars>.

"New Technology and Youth Violence." CDC. N.p., September 03, 2008 . Web. 29 Mar 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/electronic_aggression.htm>.





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