Are we the “bubble wrapped” generation?

Taken from Conscious Reminder

Taken from Conscious Reminder

Lucas Goldsmith, Journalist

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We are living in a time of growing technology. Information is at our fingertips and can be accessed at speeds faster than we can sometimes comprehend. We are truly the technology generation; we never experienced a time during our lives when the internet wasn’t available. All of this sounds great; there are huge advances in many fields of study and education. But does all of this technology that seemingly controls our lives have an effect on the parenting used on students of this generation? Are parents afraid of exposing their child to unexpected situations, and therefore overreacting by so called “bubble wrapping” their kids?

Some kids might be considered to be more “bubble wrapped” if they have less freedoms to hang out with their friends. But how is free time spent in this generation compared to previous generations? To learn about how previous generations spent their free time I spoke to Ms. Starrett, a guidance counselor at Ipswich High School, about some of her experiences growing up during her primary and secondary education. When asked about where kids hung out, she said, “We didn’t really do play-dates. You usually hung out on our street with our neighbors.” The idea was that many kids enjoyed playing close to home; they saw their friends at school and that was mostly it. Many kids had the freedom to hang out on the streets of their neighborhood, and they didn’t really have a reason to go much further than that. “Because the communication we had was different, we didn’t usually schedule activities in advance; we just met up and figured out what to do … I think social media allows kids to be more aware of what is going on and it allows them to make plans in advance.” She went further to say, “My niece is going to concerts on the weekends and dinner on the weeknights with friends.” These were activities that Ms. Starrett’s generation didn’t usually do without family.

Does this mean that kids of this generation are given more freedom? Ms. Starrett doesn’t really think this to be the case. She commented that there have always been kids who weren’t allowed out of the house, and weren’t allowed many freedoms.  There always will be those kids in the future. Furthermore, the idea that there exists a generational difference in the amount of freedom isn’t necessarily true. When Ms. Starrett was growing up “There was no GPS tracking, and it wasn’t as easy for parents to know the exact location of their kids,” she commented. She said that, as kids, they were responsible for finding a phone and making sure that their parents were aware of their location and plans. This is something that isn’t a necessity in the age of GPS tracking. I also spoke with Dmitri Angell, a senior at Ipswich High School, who thinks that our generation is less bubble wrapped than previous generations. He thinks that it is “because of social media we are all connected and know what is going on.” He believes that our generation is given lots of freedoms. He said that “5th grade [was] a good time [for us to be] allowed to hang with friends freely.” Which is very similar to the age range that was expressed by Ms. Starrett during our interview.

Overall, the idea that there is a generational difference in parenting between the current generation and the previous generation isn’t necessarily true. Sure, there are differences in the ways that parents kept an eye on their kids. This meant the difference between relying on phone calls versus using GPS tracking, but, these differences were just an adaptation to a changing society. Kids that are growing up in the current generation are exposed to different opportunities and have different ways of spending their time. They are more informed as to what is going on and when they can meet up with friends. This hasn’t changed the basic enforcement set by their parents.    

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