Study: IMs a Crutch for Increasingly “Soft” Teens

Posted on November 15, 2007
Filed Under Culture & Technology |

An Associated Press-AOL poll released today seems to confirm something that has been discussed previously on The Drama 2.0 Show: communications technologies such as IM are negatively impacting the communications skills of their users. This latest poll reveals that:

A couple of quotes from teen IM users are even more telling:

The Associated Press-AOL poll reflects a disturbing trend: youth are increasingly retreating from the real world and becoming disassociated from reality. Even though they technically may be more “connected” in some fashion, technology is a “crutch” that enables them to avoid having to deal with human interactions that might be awkward, challenging and even downright unpleasant. Of course, developing the ability to deal with these types of human interactions, which are a part of the real world, is, in my opinion, a crucial part of not only becoming an adult, but surviving as an adult. The fact that a non-negligible number of teens appear to be circumventing this development does not seem to be a positive development.

The long-term impact of “soft” teens remains to be seen, but I fear that it will be noticeable and it won’t be good for the health of our society. recently focused in on my generation - the “Millennials” - and it was disturbing to watch. I can only imagine that the increasing use of technology to avoid having to deal with others in real life will only continue to produce soft “adults” who act more like adolescents. Concepts like personal responsibility, self-sufficiency, courage, criticism and even “life isn’t fair” seem to be getting lost among the flurry of IM exchanges that traverse the Internets everyday.

I still hold out hope, however. When the dollar collapses, gas reaches $5 and global warming spirals out of control, maybe these underdeveloped teens and Millennials will decide to completely remove themselves from reality altogether and move into Habbo Hotel instead. They won’t need to find a job because the furniture is free.

Drama 2.0’s IM Conversation with Teens

Drama 2.0: Hello.
Teens: yo sup?
Drama 2.0: Grow the fuck up!

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6 Responses to “Study: IMs a Crutch for Increasingly “Soft” Teens”

  1. Stanley Miller on November 15th, 2007 11:28 am

    this is a typical media overreaction and symptomatic of our obsession with short-term metrics. the kids are exploring a new form of communication. young minds are designed for this type of work and will bounce back to convention soon enough. through this process they’ll come to know better than anyone “what works” with IM and will later apply this technology in more purposeful ways. hiding behind IM is a side-effect. no need for treatment. it will heal on its own.

    meaningful invention is a sloppy process.

  2. Drama 2.0 on November 15th, 2007 11:59 am

    Stanley: I disagree, obviously. Just watch the 60 Minutes segment on Millennials. Parents’ overindulgence in the principles of the “self-esteem movement” have created effects that are in many ways just coming to be realized as Millennials enter the workforce. These effects are long-lasting.

    Increasingly teens are adept at avoiding the unpleasant realities of life using technological means. Couple this with armies of overprotective parents who work non-stop to shelter their children from the unpleasant realities of life and I just don’t see how many of the teens who are left unprepared for the real world are going to have an epiphany one day and wake up as mature adults. They’ll simply continue along the path of least resistance because they are, for the most part, completely ignorant of their immaturity and fewer parents have the willingness to force them to grow up. Perhaps the scariest thing noted by 60 Minutes is that Americans now believe adulthood starts at age 26.

    I love technology and meaningful invention but as I look around, even the most promising technologies that have the potential to benefit society (including the Internet) become meaningless because they’re inevitably used by most as a source of entertainment and novelty.

  3. Stanley Miller on November 15th, 2007 12:31 pm

    be wary of the media-overexposure cold. i did see the 60 mins piece and wasn’t moved. (try wearing sandals to work in chicago.) recognize that we live longer now and that 20 is probably the new 14. the kids will grow up eventually, and the bed-wetting will cease. i’m more concerned with grandpa. these life-lengthening treatments and meds seem to keep him awake, but make him no safer behind the wheel.

    don’t be fooled by the drawing. entertainment and novelty is what you see because that’s the depth of the reporting. the same shallowness is everywhere today. just click on the tv. no movie captures the current state of affairs better than Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy.”

  4. Mr. Crash on November 16th, 2007 1:29 am

    I think one of the key things to keep in mind here is… That they are teenagers. And most (if not all) of them do, honestly, need to grow the fuck up.

    The thing here is that they’re dumping this truckload of stereotypes and their almost xenophobic distrust for technology on a bunch of people who could be what… 22 at the oldest? - with the vast bulk of them being younger.

    Treat them like kids and they’ll act like kids.
    If you think they’re kids - you’ll see them that way. When they act in a way that matches your stereotype - you’ll remember it. When they don’t (probably many times every day) you won’t remember it as well. It’s just the way the brain works.

    It smacks of a kind of selectional/stereotyping heuristic - which is kind of funky actually.

  5. Commoncents on November 16th, 2007 11:41 am

    The irony I am finding in this “Age of Communication” is the increasing isolation that is reflected in the need for so much social networking. The constant interaction and interruption of cell phones, IM, email, etc. seem to me to symptomatic of a society looking for itself. Are we really this alone in the world that we need to interface with gadgetry rather than real people? Is this really developing our social skills?

    The holidays are coming and those same folks we are constantly engaging online will be sitting across from you at the dinner table. The real test of your social skills is to tolerate for an entire afternoon the same people you have been emailing daily for the past year without getting into a food fight!

  6. Stanford Track Record of Producing Tech Innovations Continues : The Drama 2.0 Show on November 20th, 2007 12:52 am

    […] Send Hotness enables you to “tell your friends you think they’re hot.” This is especially useful if you’re a Freshman and a bit “soft.” […]

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