A controversial new book fingers video games, television, and digital communications as culprits in the author’s indictment of modern youth culture.
The book is The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30) by Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein. Canada.com has a lengthy interview with the author:
Something insidious is happening inside their heads. Young Americans today are no more learned or skilful than their predecessors, no more knowledgeable, fluent, up-to-date, or inquisitive, except in the materials of youth culture.
What then, Canada.com asks, does Bauerlein make of the widespread involvement of young people in the Barack Obama campaign?
…if it turns out that we have 75 per cent of young people voting in this election, then I will be happy to say that my comments about civic apathy were wrong. But if inspiration proves to be their only motive and their participation falls in later elections when an Obama is absent, then my initial suspicion will be correct. We need a diligent citizenry, and not merely a momentarily inspired one.
The book’s description on Amazon says, in part:
The Internet, e-mail, blogs, and interactive and hyper-realistic video games promised to yield a generation of sharper, more aware, and intellectually sophisticated children… we assumed that teens would use their knowledge and understanding of technology to set themselves apart as the vanguards of this new digital era.
That was the promise. But the enlightenment didn’t happen. The technology that was supposed to make young adults more astute, diversify their tastes, and improve their verbal skills has had the opposite effect. According to recent reports, most young people in the United States do not read literature, visit museums, or vote. They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount basic American history, name their local political representatives, or locate Iraq or Israel on a map…