Are the Upcoming Generation of Teens Apathetic?
by Megan Phaup
Are young people in today’s society enamored with themselves? Do they care about others? Are they unfeeling; show little or no interest or emotion; unresponsive, indifferent; passionless or void of feeling? What is the cause or reason for apathy in young folks today that wasn’t there a hundred years ago? Quite possibly it is a lack of mental stimulation. As responsible citizens of the United States, we should decide to not put up with indifference but encourage young people to get involved in their communities and to be concerned about what is going on in the government and around the world. We must not encourage the apathetic attitude that is creeping in on our young people today because our nation will end up with a population that has opinions but won’t speak up and make a difference for what they believe in.
An example of a current crisis is the majority of young adults, nationwide, who couldn't care less about who represents them on any level (Reflector). Although the majority of young Americans have particular views on nearly every issue at hand, they are becoming increasingly apathetic when it boils down to going to the polls and voting. This apathy may be due, in part, to the fact that a number of students think politicians seldom listen to their ideas and opinions. Because they feel ignored, some students are reluctant to vote, and although they may not realize it, their lack of concern is actually affecting politics itself. According to Alex Cole, founder of Democracy Matters, in the 2000 presidential election, less than 18% of the country's 18-24 year olds voted. Maybe a childhood filled with entertaining electronic devices has made them politically apathetic. But maybe they vote less because they don't see the point in voting for politicians who are increasingly controlled by campaign contributors and not voters.
Many, these days, are usually not sufficiently mentally stimulated. Along with their families, they spend their free time in front of the television, computer, or play-station; therefore, personal communication and individual attention is absent. The T.V. continually plays romanticized versions and stories of life, causing kids to be disappointed with real life. Effective stimulation brings a fresh outlook on life and provides a confidence that wasn’t there before. Sound stimulation might include reading a classic, engaging in a deep intellectual conversation with an adult, learning to cook or sew, maintaining a vehicle, properly caring for young children, and/or attending conferences, lectures, or cultural events.Among the factors that cause apathy is our society’s orientation toward entertainment (Voices); the television, computer, and play-station think for a person, deaden one’s sensitivity and creativity. When a television is the object of a family’s free-time attention, there is bound to be a lack of creativity. “When one allows oneself to be dominated by consumerism, the entertainment industry, and the television media, the desire for instant gratification arises.” When kids go over to each other’s homes, they sit in front of electronic devices that entertain them and provide no quality mental stimulation. They end up interacting with electronic devices instead of with each other. Rarely does one find children who have enough creativity to play for hours outside with just what nature provides, or to play dress up, doll babies, board games, or imaginary games. Often these children do not have access to electronic devices; therefore, they are forced to entertain themselves, not be entertained.
Learning to do a wide variety of things helps stimulate people and helps them feel confident. Breaking out of a very set, rigid schedule and including variety will add interest to life and break up the continuity. The unexpected, pleasant things in life add a spice that everyone needs.
Families aren’t as close nor spend as much time together as they used to. Most parents and children alike are gone all day, return home in the evenings to do homework, eat a pre-packaged meal, and then go to bed, only to get up the next morning and repeat the whole cycle. A few ideas that a family could do together to spend time with one another would be: to eat dinner together around the table without the presence of a television, take a walk, hike, garden, play a pickup game at home, target practice, or read a book out-loud. Repetitiveness is a cause for apathy. The schedule in this example is very monotonous. If one knows what to expect everyday, understanding it won’t change- what is there to get excited about or look forward to? Another reason teens are apathetic is because of divorce. Out of 39 students surveyed on divorce at Central Virginia Community College, 92.3% say it is more important to try to make a marriage work than to get a divorce, while 2.6% say that a divorce is more important than trying to make a marriage work. Unanswered was 5.1%. When parents who have pledged their life and love to each other decide that a commitment can be broken, they are setting an example for the children. The same survey shows that 79% say the result upon children would affect their decision to get a divorce; while 18.5% say that no, the result upon the children would affect their decision to get a divorce. Unanswered was 2.5%. The children see them quarrel and not make up; they see the fight for material possessions and children. Because of these examples, many times the kids model the parent’s attitude. The children’s lives are very unsettled, and they feel unstable because of a divorce. They don’t know what to expect out of life anymore. Many of the survey applicants clarify that domestic violence would be grounds for divorce.
Most young folks are so wrapped up in themselves and their lives that they have little or no reason to think or care about anyone or anything else. For instance, once arriving at home for the evening, many teens will go to their rooms, watch television, or amuse themselves, not caring or offering to help if their mother is doing all the work and trying to make them comfortable. If children are not made or disciplined to think and care about others, they will carry that apathy into adulthood. Then our nation will have a generation of indifferent adults who only care about themselves.
Parents, intellectually stimulate your children by teaching them life skills, by going on field trips, sending them outside to play, and spending quality family time together. Older children can broaden their own minds by participating in such activities. Don’t let the apathetic community of young people influence you. “It will come about at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good or evil!” (Zeph.1.12) Get excited about where you live and what you can do to help benefit your family life, church, community, and school, making a difference in the life of someone else. Commit yourself to making a positive change in someone’s life--someone who quite possibly can’t do it themselves. You make a difference!