Here's a typical news story we see from time to time. This one pops up every twelve months or so but the underlying themes have become an archetype of North American news cycles. Take a gander and you'll see the three points made in this video are as follows:
1. Television today promotes the idea of fame more than in the past.
2. Kids using the phone to text etc are under-developing parts of the brain for empathy.
3. Kids don't daydream anymore.
I characterize this fluff piece as the tired, decades old troupe of "kids today." You can find pieces like this every ten to fifteen years depending on whatever new piece of technology is emerging. For example, To Catch a Predator was built on the idea that internet chat rooms are deadly places where children keep secrets from their parents and meet perverts online. Before that, it was beware the perils of letting your child have a telephone in their bedroom. Before that it was television, and comic books, those talkin' pictures, etc.
This is the greatest fucking thing ever put on video tape.
Speaking to the first point (TV today promotes fame), it's interesting that the reporters select a few examples of television from days gone by such as Any Griffith, Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days and contrast them with today's American Idol, Hannah Montana etc. Now I can just as easily make the same cherry picking example in reverse: The Gong Show, American Bandstand, Ed Sullivan Show, were these not shows that promoted becoming famous or served as launch pads for stardom?
How about examples of today's programming that have values other than fame: How I met Your Mother about a man's quest to start a family, his search aided by his close and supportive friends. Or Big Bang Theory about a group of social misfits who develop their friendships and look for love. And of course Community, again the same stuff about friendship, celebrating diversity, weirdness and what makes you unique.
Things never change- before American Idol there was American Bandstand. Same shit, different day.
As to the second point, that kids have a dangerously under developing sense empathy - with the exception of psychopaths and people who have damaged their frontal cortex, we have numerous times demonstrated that even babies have empathy. What are these kids using social media for? To communicate with their friends primarily, to commiserate, congratulate, etc.
Which leads into the third point, kids don't day dream -- well, half of what they do on social media is try to make each other laugh with memes and pics and all that jazz. Yes, the average kid may want to be famous, as did your grandparents who admired the "the champion boxer, the fastest runner" to pull a line from Patton -- but their mostly looking for the grass roots fame built on the validation and feedback from their social circles. And the child interviewed in the news piece above says she doesn't have time to day dream and cites what reason? "I'm too busy with scheduled activities like sports." These kids aren't scheduling themselves -- their parents push them into soccer and dance and all assortment of structured activity. The one good thing about those activities is they do recognize the pain in their friends, emotional from teasing or loosing a game and physical from getting hit in the head with a soccer ball.
There is still bullying as their always has been, and it now uses the new technology as well. On the personal level every case is a tragedy and I was very frustrated and saddened about events like Retheah Parsons and Amanda Todd and I discussed that in a post here. But, I maintain that the same kids bullying today that always have been - the kids who get home from school and have a bottle thrown at their head.
The real problems, as always, remain cycles of violence paid forward. So take a deep breath and ignore this long broken record, along with the story about videogames turning kids into murderers and the dangers of Elvis Presley's hips.