I recently heard about a child who slept with her cell phone under her pillow and it disturbed me, but watching my granddaughter drive a car on a windy road while texting scared me even more—to the point of angry words being exchanged. What exactly has been happening over the last 10 years to the children we now call the iY generation?
In his book Artificial Maturity, Dr. Tim Elmore defines the iY generation as anyone born after 1990. Elmore suggests iY youth have low empathy (as compared to being highly compassionate) and are “slack-tivists” who think a little about being involved (rather than being activists). Technology is an appendage to their bodies rather than a tool. They are only fashionable about a cause if their friends do it instead of having passion. Elmore claims that a person of the iY generation’s aim is to be instantly famous and rich, not thinking about the career that will give them lifelong satisfaction. Hard work over an extended period of time is not a value. These youth are self-absorbed, have no ambition and have a postponed maturation. Yikes! If Elmore is right, that’s terrifying.
Dr. Elmore teaches children and college students leadership skills. He has observed that young children’s use of technology makes them seem bright and ahead of their older peers because they can whip around the Internet finding information with ease. But as these kids reach middle and high school it becomes obvious that they are greatly lacking in everyday practical skills. They have poor face to face communication skills and do not know how to work in a team. Their language and writing abilities have decreased while use of text messaging has increased. Their parents book their days with activities allowing little time for exploration and imagination. They are allowed to do what they want as long as they remain quiet. These children know little about cause and effect and rarely experience real consequences for their actions. As they age they are afraid to enter the world of work and many companies do not want to hire them. They are consumers of information but not practitioners of life. They demand immediate satisfaction and are not willing to work for it.
Museum Tour has an even more important role to play today than it has over the past 16 years. We believe very strongly that children need to develop in a balanced way that does not over emphasize technology but encourages old-fashioned hands-on educational experiences. We intend to keep supplying parents with the tools they need to help their children learn by using their senses and brain.
Playing games with friends or in multi-generational groups teaches communication, team work, competition, and strategy. Science experiments encourage a child to follow written directions and observe first hand the relationships between cause and effect. Educational kits and model building provide building blocks to learning facts, skills, and methodology that can lead to the ability to problem solve. Math and word games provide a basis for understanding the world we live in.
Learning to knit, build models, paint or sculpt develops small motor skills and patience while giving the satisfaction of success as a result of effort. Practicing a foreign language and learning about cultural variations is a wonderful preparation for living in our global society. Physical exercise, hiking, gardening, and good nutrition develop the energy needed for daily living. And, of course, reading for pleasure, information and academic achievement is a life long pursuit that becomes embedded in a child’s psyche at an early age.
At Museum Tour, we aim to encourage kids to think, problem solve, challenge themselves while discovering that learning has its own rewards, work with others (and find it enjoyable) and learn that persistent effort pays off. Parental involvement in these activities adds a sense of security and creates a parent-child bond that can help children through their teen years. Setting boundaries to use of technology and creating a balance of hands-on learning opportunities and face to face social interactions will move a child to becoming a mature thinker.