Teenagers get a bad rap.
All right, I know. As a blogger who has blogged a blog about raising tweens and teens for the past three years (!), I am very much a party to this bad rapping. There's just so much material! Homework and fashion and cafeteria drama and technology.
The single biggest thing on my contemporary complainers' radar is teens and technology.
We've all heard it (and most of us have said it) ...
"My son plays too many video games."
"My daughter's addicted to her iPhone."
"Social media ate my teenager's brain."
And, how many of us can resist an opportunity to say something along the line of ...
"When I was your age, we didn't have laptops."
"When I was your age, we didn't have cell phones."
"When I was your age, we didn't have email or texting, Facebook or Twitter, YouTube or Instagram."
It's all part of an unspoken conspiracy, a collective-selective memory process. As adults, it's our job to look back through rose-colored glasses. For just about any criticism we lay on our offspring, there's a corresponding — contrasting — example from our past. We never forgot our homework. We always cleaned our rooms. We never smart-mouthed our mothers. We always observed our curfews. We never experimented with drugs or alcohol. We always studied and got good grades.
And, we did — or didn't do — all of the above without digital technology.
At least that part is true.
Well, I'm here to tell you that we seem to be making up for lost time.
This morning, I attended a marketing industry symposium. There were several esteemed speakers and about fifty-odd attendees. The average age of the audience was maybe 40. There wasn't a teenager in sight. There were, however, digital devices. Lots of them.
Each person seemed to have at least two pieces of equipment with them. A smart phone of some brand or other, plus a tablet or a laptop. We had all spent good money to hear from experts about industry innovations. And, what were we doing? (Here's a hint "listening with rapt attention" is not the correct answer.)
Let's see ... the guy behind me was typing away furiously. I sincerely doubt he was taking notes. A woman in front of me was reading The New York Times on her iPad. Another, to my left, was checking Facebook on her phone. I myself checked emails more than once. Meanwhile, the poor speaker is plodding through his PowerPoint slides, fully aware, I have no doubt, that he had about half the room's attention, about half the time.
What message are we sending really? "Yes, I can afford the latest gadgets, can't you?" Or, "Ooh, look at me. I'm so important I can't be out of touch for sixty minutes or my company will go under, the stock market will crash, and the world as we know it will end." Or, "Aren't you impressed with my ability to multi-task?"
Actually, no. Not really.
We complain that today's kids can't concentrate or focus on one thing at a time. Apparently, we can't either. We reminisce about the good old days, but we are totally, completely, utterly engrossed in the toys of today. We tell our teenagers to "Do as I say, not as I do." But, honestly, when has that ever worked?
All I have to say is this. People who carry glass tablets, shouldn't throw stones.
(No, they really shouldn't. Replacing cracked touch screens is a b*tch.)
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