Are Our Kids Being Dumbed Down?

Kids today have to cram so much information into a relatively limited amount of time, but is all that information resonating and helping them achieve? Is the “dumbing down of kids” a real thing or just older folks (who don’t remember their own childhood) complaining? An increased reliance on technology, overscheduling and the need for instant gratification may be making kids seem dumber than before when they really just aren’t honing their problem-solving skills.

Can you Make Change?

The cash register serves a purpose, from tracking inventory and anticipated revenue to holding currency — but some cashiers are so dependent on it that they can’t make change without it. Is the ability to do math or make change quickly becoming a lost art because of Common Core or because of a loss of focus on practical skills? How often do today’s kids actually handle cash or see it used? In an increasingly digital and tech-friendly shopping setting, even small children see parents using cards instead of cash and may not be faced with making change until they are in front of the register, struggling with dimes and nickels.

Abridged (or Eliminated) Books

Abridgment can make a piece of literature easier to read, but may also leave behind all the details that make the book a classic in the first place. A recent piece in Philly Mag highlighted this issue; the author’s son was learning about the Great Gatsby, without every encountering the novel itself. Classics like the Jungle Book, Island of the Blue Dolphins and even Little House on the Prairie are being simplified to encourage reading — often rendering the story unrecognizable. Abridgment may make a book shorter and more appealing, but leave the story an empty husk — try discussing a classic with someone who has only read a summary or seen a movie and you won’t really have much of a conversation.

Stranger Things and Technology

The Netflix hit Stranger Things breaks away from technology and focuses on the mostly pre-tech 80s; aside from a cordless phone and walkie-talkie, the characters in this breakout hit have to rely on their own wits and fortitude. These 80’s kids were able to ride around pretty freely and used a pencil, paper and compass to figure things out — critical thinking skills that developed naturally with use. Would a modern child be able to determine “where” to go with just a simple compass — or would they be stuck without a modern phone with maps and texting capabilities?

We have more resources than ever before — but are we slowly becoming dumber? Probably not, we’re just not getting the opportunity to fully develop manual skills and critical thinking skills before receiving a device that does all the work for us. It’s not a thinking problem — it is faster to use Google than look something up in a book, after all.

There’s no question that some things are becoming a lost art and while technology has greatly enhanced the lives and safety of today’s kids, it can contribute to a reduction in actual life or living skills and problem-solving abilities.

Thoughts?

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