McClellan 1Faye McClellanEnglish 101Professor BoltonMarch 6, 2012 “What‟s the Matter with Kids Today?” - IDK u T3ll M3 In “What‟s the Matter with Kids Today?” Amy Goldwasseraddresses the accusation thatthe overuse of the Internet and technology are to blame for the decline of knowledge of historyand literature in the American teens these days. She points out that using similar multiple choicequestion surveys that were used on high school students twenty-plus years ago is a bit unfairbecause, as Goldwasser words it, “high school students [in 1986] didn‟t have the Internet to storetheir trivia. Now they know that the specific dates and what-was-that-prince‟s-name will alwaysbe there; they can free their brains to go a little deeper into the concepts instead of thecopyrights” (668). Even though they may not know the author of a classic novel does not meanthey are not familiar with the plot of the story; after all,“eight in 10 knew what To Kill aMockingbird is about” and “Ninety-seven percent of the teenagers in the Common Core survey connected „I have a dream‟ with its speaker, [Dr. King]” (667), which goes to show that they are reading and are not completely “living in „stunning ignorance‟ of history and literature” (666). She reminds the readers that, on average, teens spend hours a week reading and writing online. They use the technology to text, e-mail, blog, and use social networks to write about andexpress themselves. Teens are reading and writing in a way they relate to and enjoy.Goldwasser suggests in this article that the older generation bases their opinions on “fear,
McClellan 2ignorance and old-media” (667). Teens can now influence society with their knowledge and useof social media networks, a revelation that is disturbing to those that are unfamiliar with thesetechnologies. I agree that the internet cannot be all to blame for the lack of awareness of historyand literature amongst teens these days and that the older generation should quit fearing thechange that new technology brings. I agree with Goldwasser that American teens are still reading and writing by use of theInternet and other technological devices, so these should not get all the blame for the lack ofeducation of history and literature. This is not to say that the average teen does not spend a greatamount of time per week in leisurely rather than educational activities while using theseelectronic gadgets, but in doing so, they are in fact improving their reading and writing skills in away that is fun and engaging to them. Goldwasser herself writes,“We‟re talking about 33 million Americans who are fluent intexting, e-mailing, blogging, IM‟ing and constantly amendingtheir profiles on social network sites” and continues by stating,“they choose to write about themselves, on their own time, ratherthan its being a forced labor when a paper‟s due in school” (667).This goes to show that they are applying themselves so we should not judge teens so harshly fornot being able to identify a book‟s author right away and assume that this is one factor thatproves they are unaware of literature as a whole because we also rely on technology to storeinformation for us so we won‟t forget or lose it. I, myself, use my phone to store phone numbersso I don‟t have to memorize them all anymore or worry about misplacing my phone book. Weuse spell check on our computers and phones so there are words that we have gotten away withnot having to know the correct spelling to. Consider also that word processors help us with
McClellan 3grammatical errors as well as format at times. The National Endowment for the Arts “alsoconcluded that „literary reading declined significantly in a period of rising Internet use‟” (669).Did the NEA not consider other factors that could have contributed to teen‟s limited educationon these subjects? In the period of time in which the reports were made, could single parenthomes, drug and alcohol abuse amongst teens and things of that nature been of some blame? Ibelieve surveys and studies should be adjusted to go along with the times we are living in assuggested byGoldwasser, “if we worked with, rather against, the way this generation voluntarilytakes in information-we might not be able to pick up the phone and expose tragic pockets ofignorance” (668). It should not matter if teens choose to use the computer or a pen and paper aslong as it gets the same result. I am also in agreement with the author that the older generation should consider the useof this technology as an educational tool rather than being apprehensive about the change that itbrings. Perhaps it is out of fear of the influence on society that is making the usage of technology a target to blame. Goldwasser hits the nail on the head when she insists, “We‟re afraid. Our kids know things we don‟t” (667). She suggests that not only do teens have influence over elections, consumer products, and movie nominations, but also, they are using the Internet as a creative outlet for expressive writing. Canit be that the older generation is being closed minded to the Internet because it is a different formof communication and learning tool than what they are used to? We can compare this to peoplesending E-cards and emails versus Hallmark cards for birthdays and special occasions. Peoplealsoare more likely to pick up the phone and call someone instead of mailing a handwritten letterif they have news to share with a friend or family member. Does the older generation blame
McClellan 4these factors on our poor penmanship? I can go further in saying that I have used the Xbox andWii to exercise for the past few years, it is a different technique than what I grew up on, but Ienjoy the workout more using the game consoles, and it is just as effective. With that being said,we should see the benefits of teenagers reading and writing through Internet and other means oftechnology as part of their social life instead of focusing on the negatives. Therefore, I agree that the good that comes from teens spending time on the Internet isoften overlooked because of fear of the change it brings. My final thoughts will be those ofGoldwasser as she simply puts it, “Once we stop regarding the Internet as a villain, stoppresenting it as the enemy of history and literature and worldly knowledge, then our teenagershave the potential to become the great voices of America” (669). We never will know thebenefits of the Internet if we are blinded by our prejudices.
McClellan 5 Works CitedGoldwasser, Amy. “What‟s the Matter with Kids Today?”TheNorton Field Guide to Writing with Readings and Handbook. 2nded. Eds. Richard Bullock, Maureen Daly Goggin, Francine Weinberg. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. 666-669. Print.