Challenges for today’s youth

June 26, 2017 rmaddox

In today’s society, there is a growing concern about the growth and development of our youth.  The youth of today fall into one of two categories, often classified as Generation Y (the millennials), born between 1980 and 1995 or Generation Z, born between 1996 and 2010.

I remember, as a child, my elders and school teachers constantly reminding us that we were the future leaders of tomorrow. My birthdate places me in the generation X category. We were often portrayed as apathetic or as “slackers.” It appears that every generation will have some form of negative labeling associated with its era. For some reason, it appears generation Y and Z have received more labels of negative imprints than other generations.  Generation Y (millennials) are described as lazy, narcissistic, entitled, and prone to jump from job to job. Generation Z are often talked of as lazy and apathetic. They are often stereotyped as being unaware, less engaged in politics, with short attention spans and a generation that doesn’t care about the weighty issues that confront their nation and them; they’re more interested in technology and social status.

After reading the paragraph above, do you find yourself questioning the accuracy of these labels placed on the youth of these generations? If these labels are accurate, would you agree that it’s in our best interest to determine what causes this behavior in our youth?

According to CareerPlanning.com, the generational chart is broken down as follows

Generation Name Births
Start
Births
End
Youngest
Age Today*
Oldest Age
Today*
The Lost GenerationThe Generation of 1914 1890 1915 102 127
The Interbellum Generation 1901 1913 104 116
The Greatest Generation 1910 1924 93 107
The Silent Generation 1925 1945 72 92
Baby Boomer Generation 1946 1964 53 71
Generation X (Baby Bust) 1965 1979 38 52
Generation Y –
The Millennial –
Gen Next
1980 1995 22 37
Generation Z 1996 2010 7 21
Gen Alpha 2011 2025 1 6

 

These dates are approximate, and there is some overlap because there are no standard definitions for when a generation begins and ends according to CareerPlanning.com.

Based on my research, I noticed seven areas which may have caused a negative impact on the growth and development of our youth. Regarding human behavior, there are various factors that may affect a person’s outlook on life or behavioral traits. The areas I have suggested are meant to capture the problems that would affect a larger group rather than a smaller demographic.

Here are seven areas in life that could have a negative impact on our future generations unless we implement stronger morals and values.

  1. Parenting

Parents today are being blamed for the behavior of youths from generation Y (millennials) and generation Z. Some people feel that parents have left the parenting role and assumed the friend role to understand or bond with their children. Others would say that some parents are not actively involved in their children’s daily activities. Raising a child in today’s society presents a completely different experience from parenting in the ‘40s and the ‘50s.  Honestly, the parenting experience is vastly different from the 70’s and early 80’s in comparison to our present day.

Parents today are involved in a major battle against information overexposure. Kids today have the ability to obtain a large amount of information in a short period.  As parents, we want to encourage our kids to seek out information and knowledge that is positive and beneficial to their success. Unfortunately, with the advancement of technology to learn and gather information comes the problem of exposure to information that is negative and conflicting. The ability for kids to obtain porn, illegal substance information, violent materials, or information that is not accurate regarding life, in general, is at their fingertips every second of the day.

Parents, before the age of modern day technology, were not in a race against computers or cell phones regarding what their children learned about life. There was always the fear of another kid being a bad influence at school or in the neighborhood, but that fear seems much easier to address in comparison to today’s challenges. We also have to consider how much time parents are spending at work just to support their kids. Single and married parents may work two jobs or put in extra hours which would explain why some parents are not very involved in the daily activities of their children.

I believe every parent wants to see their child succeed in life. They want to teach them the best ways to live and avoid the mistakes they made over the years. We just have to figure out how to educate our children faster than technology.

  1. Education/Job Market

Many of our youth are finishing high school and going on to graduate from college. There is a slight problem our young people face after getting their degree; a job market that lacks jobs. I can understand how discouraging this must be for our youth since society stresses on the importance of having a college education for obtaining a well-paying job. I am sure many people can identify with the high cost of attending college. The celebration for getting your degree is often short lived once the calls regarding payments for student loans begin. It’s 2017 and Americans are more burdened by student loan debt than ever. In fact, the average class-of-2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up six percent from last year according to Student Loan Hero

One of the greatest pleasures in life is the feeling of independence and purpose. If you are unable to find employment, it decreases the hopes of finding financial independence and your purpose in life can be overwhelming. We have to teach our youth patience and the ability to think outside of the box. We should work to help our younger generations understand that some goals in life will take time to achieve.

 

  1. Wealth/ Success, Money

Fast life, fast cars, and lots of money have become the clear representation of the American lifestyle. So why are we surprised that members of generation Y (millennials) and generation Z may only desire jobs that will place them in the millionaires’ club. The majority of today’s entertainment is centered around wealth and power. No one wants to live a life filled with struggle and poverty but today’s youth seem to want it now and without delay. The obsession with wealth may represent a small part of the problem regarding a high number of today’s youth being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. More students than ever come to college on medication or in treatment for mental health problems, according to a report from The Chronicle of Higher Education. Both generations struggle with social acceptance and the desire to obtain success at a faster rate which may be unrealistic.

Currently, there are not real solutions to these concerns. Some people will consider these concerns as issues that should be addressed within the home. As mentioned earlier in this article, parenting can be difficult with so many external resources available for our youth with limited parental filters.

  1. Extracurricular activities

One of the best ways to bring out the best in our youth is to allow them the opportunity to participate in healthy competitive activities and team games such as basketball, football, soccer, cheerleading, dance and the Student Diplomacy Corps. These are only a few of the activities available to our youth. So, I hope you are asking the question why we have so many kids taking to the streets or participating in negative or even illegal activities. One of the main reasons many kids do not participate in any of these activities is the associated cost. Many parents simply cannot afford the excessive cost of some of these extracurricular activities. The Warriors basketball camp featuring Stephen Curry would cost one child $2,250 for the Overnight Camper experience. A typical 3-5-week Student Diplomacy Corps program fee is $4500-$7500. There are other programs that are less expensive, but you can expect to pay out at least $1,500 for these activities, and this does not include the cost of fundraising events.

Everyone understands the need for financial support for these programs but whether the parents are single or married, the inflated cost of activities prevents them from placing their kids in positive programs. When we use educational and children activities as a profit generator, we slowly begin to alienate the children of those parents who are not financially well off. In my opinion, at some point, we forgot how important these programs are for the growth and development of our youth.

  1. Social Media

Social media has become one of the biggest platforms today for communication.  Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram are just a few of the most popular social media sites used today. Earlier we spoke about the amount of information available to our youth through technology. These sites can be great for business, networking, and connecting with old friends. If they are used responsibly, they can be a great resource for our youth. The problem with social media is the potential for unlimited direct access to information or people that may have a negative impact on anyone.

Most social media sites offer some form of parental controls to restrict access to certain areas of their sites. Using parental controls is not always helpful since our youth have mastered these social platforms far beyond our skill level. Kids may also use these platforms as means of seeking understanding or confirmation from other individuals during times of conflict or misunderstanding with their parents.

Outside interference is one of the toughest challenges for parents, when dealing with the influence of social media.

                                                                                                                                                                          

  1. Influence

We discussed the influence of social media regarding kids seeking information outside of the home. Now let’s move our attention to a more visual influence on our younger generations. One of the hottest trending topics today is celebrity gossip and our political leaders. Just consider how many people tune in each day to watch reality TV shows featuring the Kardashians, Atlanta/Potomac housewives or to watch TMZ. These reality shows are all about the lifestyle of the rich and famous taking luxury trips and living in the biggest houses while throwing the hottest parties. On the other side of reality TV are the shows that want to make you a star in a couple of weeks such as The Voice, American Idol, Celebrity Apprentice, and Love and Hip Hop. At some point, I think our youth assumed that success in life could be achieved quickly based on these type of television shows.

Along with the reality TV show frenzy, our youth have front row seats to the conflicting behaviors of our celebrities. Many of our youth look up to celebrities from all genres and often seek to emulate their lifestyle. When celebrities engage in illegal or unethical behavior, this does not seem to diminish their outlook on the person. Negative behavior also applies to politicians who publicly represent a poor example of morals and values. This is extremely concerning when you think about children who fail to show respect to their parents who in turn strive to provide a healthy lifestyle for their children.

  1. Nation of disunity

I am not sure if you will agree, but I have chosen a nation of disunity as my number one reason for generation Y (millennials) and generation Z not only having the highest levels of stress/anxiety but also the inability to connect or take an interest in the future of America socially.

America has become so divided regarding cultures, ethnic groups, and religions that I completely understand why the younger generations seem lost. How do you fit into a society where unity is not based on the nation but individual groups or beliefs? If we are expecting our younger generations to become the future leaders of tomorrow, then we must find a way to unite everyone today. We cannot expect or ask our youth to take a stand for justice when we are divided on almost every level of social beliefs and judgment.

Final Thoughts

Reginald Maddox

The behavior of generation Y (millennials) and generation Z cannot be blamed on one person or any group. The future and behavior of our younger generations are affected by each of us. We all want the best for our children; I wonder what would happen if everyone took some part of this article and used it to encourage hope and love for our younger generation.