There are all sorts of areas of day-to-day life in which young people are found to be wanting, and we parents are so frustrated that we get emotional at times when trying to get them to do things. The list is so long, and it ranges from the difficulty in trying to have a civilised conversation that is not monosyllabic to persuading them to get out of bed in the morning. This is not to speak of the endless attachment to their mobile phones and our failure to get them to attempt some sort of digital detox.
The above points are only the beginning when it comes to the shortcomings that young people have. However, this article is not about focusing just on the negative side but it will also try to look deeper with the aim of celebrating the positive side in young people.
Although I will be talking more about the education side of things; however, one must also appreciate that academic education is just one aspect of what young people need to thrive. There are other aspects that are almost just as important in facilitating adulthood filled with fulfilment, happiness and success – whatever constitutes success for the individual. It is about getting the balance right as there is no single aspect of life in itself that is sufficient to make one have a perception of fulfilment.
One thing to admire is the resilience that young people demonstrated during the COVID lockdown. The loss of time with their friends, which is a big deal for the very young in particular, is something that must not be underestimated. For many, staying in doors for that long was the complete opposite of what they were used to prior to the pandemic and it must not have been easy for them.
Another area in which young people have coped very well is the never-ending pressure to achieve academic success, a notion which has been a salient feature of family life for the last three decades or so – particularly in the South East of England. Before I move onto the next point, I must acknowledge that, sadly, not all teenagers have coped very well with the two key issues above.
There is not enough time in this piece of writing to go into every detail about each of the areas in which young people deserve some credit and acknowledgement. However, I will make a list of just a few areas in which I believe the young people of today are having a much more enriching experience than I had when I was growing up. For some of these, it is either the teenagers are very good at coping or have more awareness, and in some cases, are actually being more proactive in doing something about it.
- The environment – awareness of the impact of our actions on our surroundings.
- The ability to perceive everyday life in the context of what they learn at school.
- Questioning of certain norms – with rational and valid arguments.
- Exposure to people of different cultures.
- Emotional intelligence.
- Use of everyday technology.
In a series of blogposts to follow this, I will go a little deeper and try to explain each point in the list above.
I concur that one or two of the above points are not completely positive and there are demerits in some of these aspects. One is technology, as advancement of information technology has given very easy access to online media, what some have experienced has not been so positive. Another demerit is wasting time online, and in many cases, this is done at the expense of in-person interaction with friends and family. Too much social media messaging and video watching online is not restricted to valuable entertainment or knowledge. It is often the case that four members of a family are travelling in one car and they are all engaging with four to six different media at a time. Yes, in some cases, one person may be engaging with two media platforms at a time. For example, watching something and listening to something else.
Before I drift too far into the whinging territory, let’s get back to the positives! There is more information available to us now about what to do and what not to do to protect the environment and make the world a safer place to live in, and young people are more aware of this than any other generation. They are also more emotionally intelligent, and more in tune with their minds and how certain things may impact them positively or negatively. In addition, they learn a lot about other cultures either by reading or through social media and are more open than their parents to people that may be different from them. Also, many Gen Zs have a reformist mindset and believe that there’s always a better way of doing things, especially when the ‘old way’ may not be working or yielding positive results anymore. They are not afraid of change and trying out new things or new ways of doing things. Even if they are afraid of failure, they venture anyway, doing it afraid. Now, that’s not something that can be said of many people of the older generation!
On another note, whilst I am a dreamer or perhaps an idealist as well, I’m also aware that sadly, the improved education attainment that has been well documented is not being experienced by children in all parts of society. There is a growing prosperity gap in society between the Haves and the Have Nots. If you will permit me to generalise for a moment, it is apparent that certain demographics of society are not making as much progress as the others. The widening gap in both education attainment and income are a concern that the society must address if it is to prosper.
For a healthy society, prosperity must exist in a way that doesn’t leave too many people in society too far behind, as this in my view, is not sustainable. I understand that sadly, there will always be destitution in human society. No matter how much society tries, for one reason or the other, some people will be condemned to a life of poverty. In many cases, it is not due to natural causes, but simply because they are not willing or are not able to do what it takes to have a better standard of living. There isn’t much any government or community can do to completely stamp out poverty. However, not trying to help those who are struggling is not an option. Society must not only care but be very proactive in helping to give helping hands to those who are lagging behind. We owe it to everyone, including ourselves.
Some of the issues that the young people of today will have to deal with as adults of tomorrow will be different from what we have dealt with or what we are dealing with at present. The human society is evolving all the time, and some of us are more fortunate to live in a part of the world in which there are more possibilities than in other places.
I am an optimist and I believe that despite the gloom we hear in the media, the future is bright and young people of today will thrive. The knowledge, skills and experience that they are developing now, together with the vast resources that will be available to them in the future will allow them to prosper.
In my next few blogposts, I will go a little deeper and try to expand on each of the points I’ve listed above as positives.
See here for the next blogpost in this series – https://excelinkeysubjects.com/generation-z-and-environmental-awareness/