This is a second blog post in a series of six on how we must understand and diagnose the world of the emerging generation, if we’re going to lead them well. Below is a second word I’ve chosen to define one of the challenges they face that we’ll need to help resolve.
2. Their world is homogeneous. My research tells me kids spend too much time with peers, getting guidance from the unprepared. Teens typically spend over 50 percent of their day with peers and only 15 percent with adults, including parents. In fact, 30 percent of their day is spent without any adult supervision. As a result, many don’t learn how to interface with folks from a different generation. Life is like an isolated compartment of mostly peers.
This reality is more troublesome than you might imagine. This narrow world hinders kids’ ability to make their way in the adult world. Powerful forces in society distance many adolescents from adults, prompting kids to choose each other instead of grown-ups as role models. UNC professor, Dr. Mel Levine, asks, “How can you emerge as a productive adult when you’ve hardly ever cared to observe one very closely? How can you preview and prepare for grown-up life when you keep modeling yourself after other kids?”
Interaction outside of class between a student and his college instructor is at an all-time low. As Emory professor, Mark Bauerlein, puts it, “Young people have never been so intensely mindful of and present to one another, so enabled in adolescent contact. It… wraps them up in a generation cocoon reaching all the way into their bedrooms. The autonomy has a cost. The more they attend to themselves, the less they remember the past and envision the future.”
In essence, these students who used to seek out adults and read the classics are now seeking more time with peers and watching videos on the Internet. They are no longer interacting with Hemingway or Emerson, or seeking wisdom from Socrates, but from each other. Sadly, their peers are seldom ready to furnish them with a healthy worldview.