The Development of the 21st-Century Youth

While it is only 2019, the 21st century has unfolded in ways that were once thought to be unimaginable. A large influence that has shaped the course of the century is the development of the youth culture since the end of the 1990s.

With the advancement of technology and accessibility to a wider network of media and outlets, it is clear that today’s youth is nowhere near the same as it was at the beginning of the century in 2000.

Today, from a young age, children are exposed to screens affecting their ability to make further connections to the outside world, later on causing a shift in the development of their being. Prior to the days of the Internet, children found ways to be engaged by spending more time outdoors and by interacting more hands-on with other children. Today, this is different in the sense that kids are losing their patience more easily because their attention spans are redirected to wanting to please their minds with screens and interactive applications.

A question that is often explored is the role that parents have in the development of their children. It has become common for parents to dismiss their children’s behavior or outbursts with a screen. It often sends the message that children will be rewarded with what they want by throwing a tantrum. Allowing a child to be exposed to these screens and the accessibility to the Internet at a young age is not necessarily a terrible thing if the purpose is for learning positive things such as colors or numbers, etc. It becomes a question of addiction when it is used to control the behavior of a child when the parent is unwilling to deal with certain situations. It has come to be the easy way out. This isn’t a judgment on anyone’s parenting skills, but rather an observation that has been statistically proven can affect the way a child will continue to develop, especially once they become enrolled in school.

If children are dependent on a screen before they are enrolled in school, their ability to be attentive in an environment focused on learning and growth without most immediate access to these screens will be undermined.

It is possible the child could develop some psychological disorder like ADD or ADHD which can further increase the likelihood they develop something else.

It becomes interesting to analyze how the youth of the 21st century have developed compared to prior generations and centuries. When talking to prior generations, it is often discussed that there were very limited resources and opportunities to access luxury things like televisions. Therefore, these generations enjoyed the outdoors and really allowed their imaginations to create an environment that could be shared with other children. It fostered a deeper sense of belonging and sparked friendships that lasted lifetimes.

It is important, however, to consider that not every child is growing up in an affluent society that facilitates the access they have to things like phones or tablets. There are still several states where childhoods are still rooted in the expression of fun through imagination and creativity. It is also these states whose children are less likely to have any exposure to what a screen or the Internet is. This entry focuses on states whose conditions are developed and whose economies have made it accessible for most of its citizens to be able to access the Internet and technology. While the future is unknown, it is certainly interesting to see how the world will continue to unfold, especially when the development of children and youth comes into question. Technology has become a prominent power in the contemporary world, and its future with coming generations remains open-ended. Further, it is evident that the development of children shifts significantly depending on the circumstances, since the surge of the Internet and technology, things have not been the same. There is less excitement when it comes to spending time outdoors and there becomes more of a yearn to be glued to a screen because of the captivating attention it gives to children. As the years go on, it can only be hoped that the norms of prior generations and centuries don’t die. Children are deserving of a memorable childhood and one that isn’t remembered through the participation of owning a screen for entertainment.

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