OPINION: Worst generation? Social media and the lie about young people today

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
Young people today aren’t so different to their forebears.
Camera IconYoung people today aren’t so different to their forebears. Credit: Emma Innocenti/Getty Images

Kids nowadays! I am a dad, a teacher and I help out at a few clubs for young people, so I have my fair share of experience in dealing with pre-teen and teenagers.

Also I have a lot of experience in listening to comments (mostly uninvited) from adults about how kids behave ‘nowadays’.

Although most of the observations are constructive I do find more and more that people are becoming frustrated with the attitudes of some of our young people.

There is a cliche (but it could be argued that cliches often have roots in reality) that kids nowadays are the worst-behaved generation ever.

Is this true? Are kids in 2020 displaying the worst respect? Worst resilience? The worst aspirations of any generation before them?

My honest opinion is no, I do not think that teens and pre-teens in 2020 display any behaviours that my generation didn’t also do their fair share of.

But what we do have now, that my generation did not even get a sniff of, is the dreaded social media.

Cast your mind back to when you were a 15-year-old, in school or out with your mates.

The thought comes upon you to get into some mischief, nothing major but still behaving in an antisocial way.

Even in the more out-of-the-ordinary situations, who would find out about your actions?

You, your mates and maybe your parents?

It’s unlikely that anyone out of your immediate circle would be any the wiser.

Now apply that same scenario to our technology-rich era.

Our Facebook feeds, Instagram pages and multiple social media platforms can get flooded with pictures, videos and stories of young people.

I believe this reinforces the myth about our current generation being the worst ever.

Not the behaviour itself but the availability and repeated nature of how we see it.

We can’t really be blamed for thinking the worst of a section of our community when most of what we see is negative and we see it every 10 posts on our social media feed.

But we need to be wise enough to take each story in context and to not attribute such behaviourto an entire generation.

The saddest thing about this is the teenagers’ attitude towards this assumption.

Just as adults see post after post of poor behaviour, the kids see just as much.

Teens and pre-teens often believe their own press.

They are told they are the worst so it becomes their reality.

But again this doesn’t make it true, whether worn as a badge of honour or a sash of shame.

Being the worst generation ever is not a title I would give our current teenagers.

Would you?

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