“They believe themselves deserving of things they don’t really deserve.” Most, including Beckman, lay the blame for that in large part on “helicopter” parents, who shower material gifts on their children, are increasingly prone to interfering in both school and sports (in the process shielding their children from the consequences of their actions) and who shy away from assigning chores at home or requiring teens to work at after-school jobs.
At least some blame, however, also goes to coaches, who stopped awarding trophies for excellence and started awarding them for participation, and schools, who now build self-esteem lessons into the curriculum, as well as a media culture that tailors itself to teens’ every preference.
“This generation is more satisfied with being advocates on social media than in the streets,” Bartlett explained, noting that many view “likes” on Facebook or re-tweets on Twitter as the equivalent of visits to soup kitchens.
Similarly, just as social media gives teens the feeling of having advocated for change without working for change, it also gives them a sense of knowing more than they do.
These things teach teens that they’re the center of the universe — that life will tailor itself to their tastes and schedules.” The i Generation may have hundreds of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but for all their connections in virtual worlds, many struggle to form meaningful connections in the real world.
“They can post the most intimate details online, but can’t have a heart-to-heart conversation with someone face to face,” said Kissinger.
Soccer, ballet, chess, drama, swimming, fencing, running — almost none of it is just for fun or enrichment anymore.
Today, parents shell out big bucks for lessons and programs, which almost always come with high-pressure recitals, games and meets.
In part, he continued, that’s social media’s fault, which has made it easier for teens to protect themselves from messy, real world interactions, where rejection is more immediate and conflict has greater consequences.
A larger chunk of responsibility, however, lies with the adults in the children’s lives, adults who have allowed teens to be plugged in almost since birth, put smart devices in their hands during elementary school and who don’t engage with them regularly in the home.
Explained Kissinger, “They don’t have to listen to top 40 radio anymore; they can listen to Pandora.
They don’t have to watch network TV; they can stream Netflix.
“It’s more oriented around feeling good than being good.” Likewise, with staggeringly high numbers of teens rejecting the idea of absolute truth — one recent study by Protestant apologist Josh Mc Dowell put it as high as 93 percent — most believe it is up to individuals to determine what defines “feeling good.” “You could almost say they’re moral individualists, rather than moral relativists,” said Brian Kissinger, who has spent 10 years serving as a youth minister in Pittsburgh and northern Virginia.