As We Take Out the Garbage Unaided and Tie Our Teens’ Shoes….


Technology Addiction In Teens

“Parents want their kids’ approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents’ approval, and that has led to consumer craziness with high tech gadgetry purchases, excessive time permitted in isolated narcissism, and many other ills. Parents need to grow up.” — Richard Martin Oxman

The farther back you look, the faster kids grew up. In medieval Europe, children from seven on were initiated into adult work. Compulsory schooling, introduced in the nineteenth century, pushed back the age of maturity to sixteen or so. By the middle of the twentieth century, college graduation seemed, at least in many quarters of the U.S., to be the new dividing line. Now — if Judd Apatow, Melvin Konner, Carolina Izquierdo and many others focusing on this dynamic in various realms in and outside of academia are to be trusted — it’s possible to close in on 40 without coming of age.

Evolutionarily speaking, this added delay makes a certain amount of sense. In an increasingly complex and unstable world, it may be adaptive to put off maturity as long as possible. According to this way of thinking, staying forever young means always being ready for the next big thing (whatever that might be).

Or… adultesence might be just the opposite: not evidence  of progress but another sign of generalized regression. Letting things slide is always the easiest thing to do, in parenting no less than in banking, public education, and environmental protection… to name just a few realms. A lack of discipline is apparent these days in just about every aspect of American society.

Why this should be across the board is a much larger question, one to ponder — perhaps — as we take out the garbage unaided and tie our teens’ shoes.

The most influential U.S. youth demographic at present — youngsters who stand to have the greatest impact on everyone worldwide potentially — are being spoiled rotten, and the world is rotting away, in part, as a function of that.

That is said with full awareness of the so-called rise in the numbers of proactive youth demanding this and that, bouncing off of ongoing school massacres and incessant police brutality. Marching and and screaming and calling on congressional members and signing petitions and boycotting, etc. does not demonstrate any coming of age.

It cannot as long as high tech gadgetry remains the center of teen and pre-teen existence. For the narcissistic engagement that’s de rigueur these days with Silicon Valley devices precludes deep, ongoing engagement. Only token, intermittent civic engagement is possible in such a milieu, not mature involvement.

There’s simply not enough heartbeats in the day to play as kids do today and also get down — in in-depth fashion — with a passionate addressing of our collective crises effectively.

Children across the spectrum are a problem now, in part, because of poor parenting… not just so-called “problem children.”The good news, though, is that it doesn’t have to say that way. The advantages of high tech gadgetry can be put to new kinds of use, obviously. [Pause.] As long as we stop touting children’s devices as a general good for the most part. At present, they are — in fact — a serious deterrent to growing up for the most part on a number of scores. A guarantee of no one being able to count on a healthy old age in the future.

Annapurna Tosca Sriramarcel is part of the Oxman Collective, and she can be reached at [email protected].


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