I’m going to start off with a disclaimer, because what I’m about to say, I realize, doesn’t apply to everyone. While I don’t want to generalize, I do find that there is a prevalence, with the introduction of the internet to the general public, toward people getting used to instantaneous gratification. It comes in the form of ‘likes’, having people agree with us, being able to buy something and have it delivered within seconds… the ways are countless.
But I have to wonder how much this bleeds into our real lives. Those of us who grew up without the internet know that sometimes you have to wait for things. We have learned how to save up, sometimes for years, to get what we want.
I’m finding that it’s much harder to teach my children the value of waiting than it might have been had it not been for the internet, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. It seems to me that there are more young people these days looking for handouts because they can’t manage to save enough – they don’t want to wait. And from what I’ve concluded, observing many young people (in this country anyway) there are more of them sitting at home on the internet relying on government assistance than ever before. For instance, according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, in 2012 the unemployment rate for those aged 15-24 was 14.3%, compared to ages 25-54 at 6%. What this tells me is that more kids, in or well out of high school, are living off either their parents’ or the government’s back than those who are wise enough to have figured out that they’re not going to live long if they expect everything to be handed to them. These are supposed to be their brightest and most energetic years, and yet they sit in their rooms and surf.
Are we enabling this behaviour as parents? I think so. It used to be that families who lived off welfare taught their kids to do the same. (See disclaimer.) But now, how do those of us who do work, teach by example when our kids are learning more from the internet than they are from us, their parents? The obvious solution is to cut off the internet – easier said than done. If we do so temporarily and take the time to teach our children the values we grew up with, how long is it going to take them to go back to their “regular programming” once the computer is turned back on? I’m thinking five minutes, if we’re lucky.
It’s a difficult situation we’re in, and one that isn’t going to be solved overnight. Kudos to anyone able to resolve it before our kids turn 25.