When it comes to some of the most popular reading material for today’s kids, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid collection dominates the list. Written by Jeff Kinney, the series follows the ups and downs of middle school life for the fictitious Greg Heffley.
Regardless of how one views the literary quality of the Wimpy Kid series, one has to admit that the author who can sell over 150 million copies of a children’s book has at least one finger on the pulse of America’s youth. Perhaps that’s why Kinney’s recent indictment of today’s youth culture holds so much sway. As The Telegraph explains, Kinney believes kids “are losing the ability to hold a conversation because of their use of technology.”
Kinney goes on to say:
"I don't know if anybody really has the right answer but what's undeniable is the way that kids communicate with each other has changed fundamentally and probably permanently….
‘What we really want for our kids is to be fully socialised and to hold a conversation with one another and I think that's what's being lost.
‘If I get in the car with my kids now everybody's on their phone ... and it feels weird to drive around with everybody on their phone.
‘I think it is being lost, not just slightly, and I think that we're all complicit as parents as well. It's on my mind all the time.”
Kinney’s words place a fascinating perspective on the culture in recent months. As was observed in the wake of the 2016 election, many students no longer know how to discuss issues and ideas in a civil, reasoned manner. Some are eager to do so, for they want to learn how to logically debate and decide their stance on certain issues.
Schools, however, rarely offer such basic logical training to students anymore. Instead, they heavily incorporate technology into almost every aspect of learning, continually implying that it is the remedy to our educational woes.
But while technology is certainly useful in some areas, have we trained kids to be too dependent upon it? In allowing them to be so comfortable with technology, have we actually conditioned them to operate in the short, thoughtless, and often emotionally-charged forms of conversation which are causing so many problems on college campuses? Would training our children to take a step back from technology improve the frigid cultural climate we’re now dealing with?
[Image Credit: Flickr- Gary Dunaier (CC BY-SA 2.0)]
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.