I often hear folks complaining and saying negative things about the young people of today. I’m sure you hear it or maybe even say something yourself. I hear they are always on their phones: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever the next new app is. They need to get out and do more playground activities. Kids today are lazy and full of themselves.
I have a little different perspective. I am glad I grew up when I did. The youth of today are faced with so many more things to deal with on a daily basis than could have ever been imagined.
I’ll begin with school work. Recently I spent some time with Mrs. Diane Stanzione – she was Miss Daneker when I attended Loyalsock High School. Her first year as guidance counselor was my junior year. Today she, along with Mr. McCarthy, take care of the guidance needs of the township. They both help my son Jimmy with his high school and college course selection and prep. Interestingly enough, my head football coach Ken Robbins took care of my guidance needs before Miss Daneker arrived. I could tell some stories about Mr. Robbins and his guidance, but that’s another story. Just let me say it was a lot of fun and he guided me in much more than just school. I’ll save those stories for another article.
Back to school today. The academic challenges and requirements far exceed what was expected of us back then. I am amazed by what young people are learning and the programs available outside the school walls. Young people today do a great job in the classroom and the time they put in to do well, so far surpasses the time students were putting in years gone by. I don’t think there would be nearly enough tutor hours available to get me through the math courses today. Man, did I hate Algebra, Trig – well pretty much all math. There are much tougher standards that students are held to in order to participate in athletic and extracurricular activities. Most seem to balance the classroom and whatever season it is very well. The pressure to achieve in the classroom, but also at something else is tremendous. Educators today do a fantastic job helping our youth. I see it firsthand. Coaches and Athletic Directors truly care and put the classroom first and realize all that is asked of young men and women.
There is much more expected of you if you are participating in athletics. You used to go season to season and put the ball, bat or sneakers away and move on to the next sport. Not true today. If you are not in the weight room, doing some sort of speed and agility work and practicing your sport or sports, you are falling behind. All schools have non-mandatory programs you are expected to attend if you are not playing another sport. Summers are a free-for-all – every coach has a program and expects you there. In my day a little summer basketball league and a few passing scrimmages and we were good to go. Not today. Boys and girls juggle multiple sports in the summer. Some school coaches work together, some don’t. For example, it’s a midsummer day – how about a football workout in the morning, followed by some work in the batting cage and a summer league game or hoops workout in the evening. Throw in a little speed and agility, go to sleep and do it all over again. Kyle Datres’s feat of being a three-sport, all state athlete is truly remarkable in today’s world.
We covered school and extracurriculars, how about the social aspect of growing up? At a much younger age all young people are being exposed to drugs, sex, you name it. Not a couple of beers and maybe a little pot. There are serious drugs like heroin. Beer has been replaced with vodka. Do you really think Swedish Fish, Cupcake and Cherry Cola flavored vodka are meant to appeal to just those over 21? That’s just three flavors – there are more than I can name! Peer pressure is at an all-time high and most make the right choice. Schools have answered the bell, providing many educational programs that begin in the elementary schools. Cross-age teaching is an excellent program that has high school students teaching elementary students about drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Parents take note – if you are not talking to your kids, someone else is. The sex thing I am going to let alone other than to say that no matter what you look at or watch on TV, the standard of what’s being shown is at an all-time low. Kids see more and know more by the sixth grade than probably any of us know. Again, the schools are educating, but you better start early at home and don’t think it’s a one time talk about the birds and the bees.
Now on to technology of today. Please don’t complain about cell phones – the biggest abusers I often see are parents. Your kid is telling you something and you can’t lift your head up and listen. You are a parent of three and more interested in Facebook than your 15-year-old daughter.
Anything in excess is not good, and many do abuse their cell phone, video games, etc., but who allows this? You’re the parent, set a good example and guidelines. I’m glad our young people are taught and embrace technology – that is the future. iPads are a tremendous learning and organizational tool and in life have replaced the day planner and desktop computer of yesteryear. What’s next?
How many folks make a living sitting in front of a computer or in a related field? It is the world today.
The last thing is young people being lazy and self-centered. Technology has made for a more sedentary lifestyle and that has translated all the way down to the youngest. I myself need to get more exercise and find more to do with my kids. We as parents and guardians need to make sure kids are moving and playing – not just sitting. This is not a youth problem, it is an American problem. Don’t single out the young ones. Take a look at our society as a whole.
As far as being self-centered, this is just not true. I see young people spending their time on missionary trips, helping in our area with so many causes I couldn’t list them all, working with those younger than them – whether as a tutor or as a ‘young coach’ helping the next class of ball players behind them in school. Young people are involved in so much more in our communities today, take a look around you. When do they find the time?
The next time you want to take a shot at the youth of today, think about it. They did not choose to be born at this point in history, but they are certainly embracing their time. I believe they will have a positive effect on history, and leave us much better than our leadership of today. Call it mental and technological evolution. What would you have done?
Margarita Shkurko has been in our country for 2 1/2 years. She came to us from Russia via Loyalsock High School. Please take the time to enjoy her first published story. Rita is a smiling, energetic, smart, young lady. I am honored to have her on board.