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Teens: 'The Dumbest Generation'?

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One writer thinks IMing is making our kids stupid.


An author is making waves for writing a book called The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future. College professor Mark Bauerlein basically thinks young people today are just plain dumb. Why? He says teens are more interested in their Facebook pages than what's going on in the world. They don't read books. Thanks to texting and IM, they can't spell. They're obsessed with video games. And even though they have access to information 24/7 via the Internet, they don't retain much of it.

Do you agree that life in the digital age is dumbing down our kids?

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8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Lindee May 12, 2008, 12:00 PM

Yes I agree with the author. When my daughter was in 2nd or 3rd grade (don’t remember which) I asked her teachers about correcting the kids to make them spell words properly. They were more interested in teaching them how to sound it out. Anyway I made sure I always corrected her or encouraged her to ask how to spell it. Today she (19) is a good at spelling words. IMO this mumbo jumbo language they use for texting is just plain stupid!

Kaila May 12, 2008, 2:30 PM

I totally agree. It’s a tragedy that more and more teens prefer video games and television than reading or actually playing outside. Plus, art and music school programs constantly get cut back more and more! I don’t shelter my kids from t.v., BUT I do limit the amount of t.v. they watch and definitely push reading—which increases your vocab. and makes you an excellent speller—and encourages using their creative imagination as much as possible.

Jessica May 12, 2008, 11:54 PM

From a teenagers perspective, I do agree to some extent with the author.

With texing and IMing, spelling is constantly put on the back burner, as well as grammer. I personally have a pet peeve of incorrect grammer or incorrect spelling, but many teens dont care.

brooke May 13, 2008, 8:42 AM

Being part of the group the author is talking about I agree to some things that they have said. Many kids in my year 10 classes will write essays in IM instead of using proper spelling and grammar. It annoys me when they do this. Although I do live on the computer I prefer to read over sitting there doing nothing between my chats. I get annoyed when my friends use stupid shortcuts that don’t make sense. My brothers are only 2 years younger then me they are a lot worse off spending most of their time on the computer on the online games. I find they can’t spell basic words and their vocabulary isn’t as great as mine was at their age. I’ve also found that their teachers aren’t doing anything to help them with this or comprehension which most their class struggles with.

karina May 31, 2008, 11:17 PM

while this is sadly true, people must remember it is not true for ALL teens. most of my friends are actually some of the most studious people i have ever met. while we text and chat on IM, we still make time to read and take AP and Honors classes and study. i think this is becoming a stereotype for teenagers- that they do not like to read and care more about Facebook and parties rather than studying. however, this is not totally true and my friends and i do not deserve to be called “the dumbest generation.”

Joe August 6, 2008, 9:55 PM

We are smarter then you may think, those teens that are facebooking and myspacing are learning HTML coding and so much more stuff… Stuff you adults couldn’t learn, unless you spent like 10 years studying it. And most teens don’t talk lyke dis iN IMs NEmo.

This doc guy needs to do his research.

Adrienne October 4, 2008, 11:05 PM

I’m constantly on the internet…. Reading. I am a whack job when it comes to grammar. I don’t play video games (I was never allowed, because my parents are psychology professors, and didn’t want me to become violent). I just got back from hanging out with a friend at some chain restaurant, where we talked about the Vice Presidential Debate, and how much it sucked that our concert was postponed, and I bugged her about getting in her voter registration form (we both turned 18 last week).

I do have a facebook, and a sarcastic myspace, and while I check my facebook constantly, it’s because that’s how I check in with my best friend, who is away at college in Italy.

When I text message, I use as much proper English as patience and cell phone keypads allow.

It annoys me to be stereotyped and grouped with my less mature, less civilized and less intelligent peers.

Rebekah October 6, 2008, 4:29 PM

I am a 25-year-old professional editor with a master’s degree in writing who uses her old spelling bee trophies as bookends. I know my way around the English language.

While my peers and the teenagers in my life do use IM and text slang in electronic messages, most grew more careful their grammar and syntax once they realized they occasionally need to communicate with adults. You know, those people who still haven’t learned to check their voicemail or play a DVD unassisted?

It’s amazing how similar books like “The Dumbest Generation” are to books that came out ten years ago, when I was a teenager, telling me I’d never amount to anything because I just wasn’t smart enough. A decade and a graduate degree later, I find the jeremiads haven’t changed. Next week I expect our mothers will complain about scanty wardrobes and lewd dancing … just like their mothers and grandmothers did before them.

Incidentally, I’m also an elementary writing tutor. My fifth-graders write essays as good as my fifth-grade work. Perhaps we should let kids finish their education before we call them stupid. It used to be okay to be ignorant as long as you were still learning.

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