Artificial Maturity

Helping kids meet the challenge of becoming authentic adults

What Meaningful Work Does to Youth, Part 2

Youth today are growing up in a SCENE that adults created. Read More

Looks like you were the only one working as a teen

Considering how many people of ALL ages seem never to have learned some or many of the items you listed, I can only conclude that very few people have ever worked as teenagers. The fourth item is particularly hilarious, considering that the Western society has LONG been a credit society, where people incur ridiculous debts to pay for unnecessary stuff with no idea of how they are going to pay them back. The current teens certainly didn't invent that particular trend!

"Instead, they are busy with virtual activities, but often not real ones."

Many virtual activities are actually very real. Writing, podcasting, putting together videos, just to name a few, are all activities which demand work, dedication, technical knowledge, and which encourage creativity and patience. Discussing hobbies and debating issues online allow teens from all over the world to share and confront their points of view, to learn from each other, to stretch their comprehension of the world.

Oh, and by the way? One reason teenagers don't get jobs today is because the only ones they could apply for are being grabbed by desperate college graduates or laid-off 50-somethings who can't get anything better in this economy. So, yeah.

I agree with your idea that a

I agree with your idea that a lot of young people would benefit from having meaningful work to do. I feel that's one of the bigger issues with our education system today: while well-intentioned, the tasks and projects themselves feel quite contrived. It's almost ironic that students who might be smarter or more aware are the ones who can see right through them.

It's sad how many people I've known throughout school who have procrastinated or given up on assignments, or given them a weak effort at best, just because they don't see any real point coming from them. If we could find ways to add meaning to these educational goals, or better yet, to educate through meaningful work, that might be all the more beneficial. I've seen this done well through co-op programs, but sadly not many students get to take part in those.

That said, I do have to take issue with the false dichotomy of meaningful <-> virtual. Both in the world of geographic proximity and the world of sharing-at-a-distance, there is both meaningful and meaningless work and activity. There are meaningful and meaningless blogs, videos, games, and all manner of media. These Psychology Today blogs, for instance, can help a lot of people with personal growth.

I'm not denying that there are people out there who use the internet for escapist or antisocial purposes, but it's also a great way for people to learn, for creators to reach a wider audience, for communities of passionate individuals to gather... I think what's "meaningful" shouldn't be objectively defined; it's something each individual - of whatever age - needs to discover for themselves. And a good parent or teacher should be able to help a kid discover their interests and passions (which may manifest in the things they do "just for fun") and help them channel that enthusiasm and energy into meaningful pursuits and activities related to them.

Anyway, keep up the great work and best of luck with the blog!


I think the point here is that too many kids are shuffled around by their parents to practice after practice and spending weekends driving many miles to competitions. As a single mom of two, I eventually put a stop to it. When I sensed that my kids one at a time were losing interest in their sport, I stopped signing them up. In lieu of getting jobs, which I agree are hard to find, I taught my kids how to keep up a house. Things that have actually been helpful to them at the paying jobs that they have now.

I didn't feel like my kids were gaining anything that would help them in adulthood by being on club teams(outside of school). They have learned valuable lessons from going to art exhibits, museums, and yes, helping out at charity events and church. When they were both on teams, I felt more like a chauffeur and housekeeper than a mother. I think the emphasis here is not on kids having too much computer time, but not having enough responsibility as members of family units. In most ways I blame that on parents who get caught up in winning trophy's more than their kids do.

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Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders, an international non-profit organization created to develop emerging leaders.


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