As is our occasional habit, my friend Richard and I gorged ourselves the other day at the all-you-can-eat sushi place. Richard is one of the world’s leading experts (no kidding) in peer mediation and conflict resolution among teenagers and as such, he’s had more conversations with more teenagers than anyone I’ve ever met (don’t ask, I don’t know why he likes it either).
He told me about a workshop he ran recently in which he asked about 35, 10th and 11th graders, to “reveal their biggest fear or concern about the future.”
World War III?
Nope, nope, nope.
The number one concern these kids had was that the spread and use of technology would negatively impact the quality of their relationships.
Huh? You mean to say that our texting, screen-watching, always-connected teenagers are worried about the same thing we are? Yep.
I took this as very good news, and for two reasons. First, because it reinforced my belief that people are people (in a good way) and that while the next generation always seems to be taking us on a sharp turn towards the end of civilization, that illusion is more a function of our aging than of their confusion.
Second, because even in a world dominated by technology, relationship is what really matters to people. As a content marketer (and full-time earthling), I find that very reassuring.
Photo courtesy of EnronsPics, used under a Creative Commons license.
As a member of a generation several times removed, and
one in which there was only face-to-face interaction with
friends, family and fellow students (no 24/7 electronic
connections), I find the survey results provocative, but
Today’s teens and tweens have no basis of comparison
about how and whether electronic media will negatively
affect their relationships. Since they have grown up with
electronic means of connections, they don’t know what
it would be like to be without it. That is, they could only
have verbal discourse while in the actual presence of
their peers, such as at school classes and functions,
Fifty years ago, or even 20 years ago, interaction times
with peers were greatly limited, compared to instant
communications, texting, sexting, and spontaneous
sharing of cell phone photographs.
I suggest that relationships today might be negatively
affected because of too much exposure to each other
too often. Shared time conversations become trivial
and essentially worthless, when reduced to “tweets”,
such as, “”Sup? I’m eating lunch.”
All you can eat sushi!? Where? Please sign me up! But I agree that the findings are somewhat reassuring. Relationships can be maintained without technology interfering and/or facilitating them. Maybe today, it just takes a little more thought to do so than it used to.
Andrea! I think you’re right, it’s all about how you use the technology.
And I agree, all-you-can-eat sushi is an amazing concept: http://www.minado.com/