Sunday, December 26, 2004

Echo Boomers!

As you all know from my previous disclosures, I tend to sit on the couch in front of the TV and of all things punch keys on my laptop. I know it seems ridiculous. Even Ellen DeGeneres mocked this sort of activity during one of her stand-up performances. But she was "spot on" in the fact that we all seem to be connected to so many different things simultaniously. It amazes me how I actually concentrate on any one thing. This could explain many things I have experienced in life but we'll leave that for another time.

What prompted me to hop on here and punch some more keys was a story on 60 Minutes called the Echo Boomers. The story explored this large generation of adolescents directly descended from the Baby Boomers and how they are affecting present day society much in the same vein as adolescents in the '60s shaped society then. The story highlighted some of the more obvious obsevations about these kids which we all have seen first hand. Any trip to the local mall can show you how kids of the Echo Boom are different. Myself, only 10-15 years removed, I see remarkable things and at the same time things that make me wonder. If I take a typical teen (a client of mine) who I've known for several years as a basic model you'll see what I mean.

This kid has in his possession at any instant during the day at least one mobile communication/media hybrid device that he can operate at the expert level. Being a tech-junkie myself I often call his bluff when he brags about a new "toy" he has. In a move that's sort of like a throwback to my parents' generation (my father, the old son of a gun, particularly comes to mind) I almost always ask him, "...what do you need that for?" But clearly, whatever the new tech item is he clearly is not keeping it polished on his desk or tucked within his backpack for safe keeping. He is definitely using it!

Many times during our sessions he is bombarded with text messages, random direct-talk quips (a la Nextel), download status notifications, you name it. Not that I entertain this for too long, especially when we are on the clock, the fact remains he is constantly connected to information sources. Albeit, most of his "breaking news" is in the form of updates revolving around chicks he is currently working on (a-hem) dating. Nevertheless, the point is still valid. The whipper-snappers of present day have a lot of access to information of all sorts. This can be a great thing.

What makes me wonder, however, is if we still have room for more traditional learning experiences. You know, experiences that sometimes took many times over to really appreciate and grow from. In the days I chewed ground as a youth, a skinned knee or elbow taught all kids a valuable lesson is playing it safe. But the Echo Boomers have never known riding a bike without wearing a helmet. Not saying helmets are a bad idea in light of how many motorists we have, but it still makes me think. Bonafide "rough housing" has been replaced with highly structured (and sterile) environments where kids play sports, exercise, etc. In these settings, if two kids happen to "bump" into one another they are almost immediately pounced on by not only the coach, the assistant and several parent volunteers. All of them with one thing in mind I'm sure - a possible lawsuit pending. Am I the only one that is taken back by this? While I do feel that the Echo Boomers are definitely being groomed for great things, I also think they are being groomed for a serious reality check once they get out from under their parents protective umbrella.