Modern life moves at an exceptionally fast pace, one that our grandparents and great-grandparents could not have imagined in their day. Because of technology and its rapid advances, the youth of today have life challenges and opportunities that their grandparents never had, which should be taken into consideration when planning for the future.
Young people today have never known a world without the internet, and many of them are constantly connected to their smartphones. This can have a negative impact on the quality of their personal interaction with others. It becomes hard to unplug and get off the grid, which can lead to physical isolation. Instead of meeting friends in person at a coffee shop, or sitting down with their teachers to discuss their assignments, they may text or email them. But interacting online with a friend will never provide the emotional and mental health benefits as meeting one for lunch.
Young people also face new health challenges. Texting neck, caused from looking down at a phone for too often and too long, can cause significant pain and damage to the spine. In young people, this damage could be permanent. Similar damage occurs in the joints and tendons in the thumbs, a result of overuse from texting. The fear that they will miss out if they turn off their phones has lead to young people getting far less sleep than they need and increased their anxiety, which negatively impacts their academic and work performance. Not being able to put down their phones has also led to too many young people being involved in car accidents due to distracted driving. Many of these accidents have resulted in fatalities.
Additionally, young people today live in a fishbowl due to modern technology. Every action they take online, whether posting on Facebook or uploading photos to Instagram, leaves behind an electronic footprint that cannot be erased. This can have devastating repercussions. While older generations had the luxury of being able to grow up making mistakes that are remembered only by friends or family, today’s youth don’t experience that kind of freedom. Every mistake they make is documented for remembrance and review for anyone with an internet connection. This can affect their futures, as many employers or colleges will review an applicant’s social media accounts before making an offer of employment or admission.
The answer to these challenges is not to delete all digital interaction. In many cases, the only way to apply for jobs or colleges is to do it online. And there are many jobs and colleges that rely heavily on technology to do business. Young people often don’t have a choice. If they want to compete in the world today, they need to be connected.
When planning for your grandchildren’s or great-grandchildren’s futures, keep in mind how their lives and futures are connected to technology. While technology has presented them with challenges, it has also expanded their lives and opportunities, especially in the field of education. Young people today may not choose to attend a traditional university, but rather seek higher education online while pursuing employment or other interests. Technology has also created entirely new fields of work and study, and will continue to do so. It has made the world a smaller place and allowed us to interact with other cultures and witness events we might otherwise never see. Today’s young people will likely have opportunities and futures we may not be able to fully imagine, so planning for those futures will require the help of professionals.
No one knows what the future holds, but you do know that you love your grandchildren and great-grandchildren and want the best for them. Plan for the challenges and opportunities that they will face, and enjoy watching them grow and thrive in this new and modern world.