Are there any ways in which "kids these days" actually are different than kids of past eras?

Every time someone complains, “Kids these days, they ___ this and ____ that,” people unfailingly then dig up the old Socrates quote: "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” (attributed to around the 400s B.C.) - in other words, that every generation has always complained about the rebellion, attitude and demeanor of “kids these days.”
But - are there any ways in which “kids these days” (let’s define as, all born after 2000, or at least at some point in the 1990s,) really are different than people of prior generations? Mainly asking about ways in which they are bad (in a way that is different than how previous generations were rebels or bad in their time,) but also in good ways as well.

Kids no longer need to be in physical proximity of others to play with them.

Kids today are likely setting themselves up for later health problems by not going outside as much and playing.

Parents are robbing their kids of opportunities to grow by overwhelming them with planned activities, helocoptering and using them as replacement friends.

Kids today are less independent that kids of my generation. They’re way over-scheduled, and don’t get enough time to just be kids. They don’t get the freedom we got to explore the world on our own terms, in relative safety.

I agree, with the proviso that it’s probably as safe or safer than it was back then, people are just more aware/scared of the dangers than they were.

I think the constant access to internet/phones has to have some effect, but I think it’s mostly positive. It has been observed that a lot of bigots just haven’t met anyone of the group they are prejudiced against, i.e. that black guy who dismantled a chapter of the KKK by befriending its members, or Dick Cheney being pro gay rights due to his daughter. I think it’s likely that kids these days will run into a lot more people of different types because of the internet. Another change that is mostly positive, but with some drawbacks is that kids will be able to find their group even if no one in town is of their group. In a small town, a kid might be the only goth, and will probably give it up, but in a big city, will have a bunch of other goth kids to be friends with. The internet is an even bigger pool to find your group in. This is mostly positive, but unfortunately, it also includes groups like neonazis and the like.

I think kids today have a greater sense of agency than kids in my generation (I was born in 1976). We were pretty much all benignly neglected by our parents, and braced for nuclear holocaust to come along and make everything moot. We didn’t think we mattered; thinking you mattered was “attention seeking” and pathetic. Kids today are more secure in themselves. Girls, especially, have internalized a lot less nonsense about sex and their own bodies and boys.

I know everyone loves to bitch about helicopter parents, but I was not better off for having been raised by two people who were pretty much always at work.

Their sense of connectivity through technology and their use of it is totally unprecedented. Us geezers have no concept of what their life is like in this regard.

Kids these days face a larger social group with which to compare themselves (e.g. their ‘peer’ group isn’t just the kids in their neighborhood or school, but a much larger social media presence), ramping up the stress and angst of adolescence.

I think kids are more progressive. I hear about trans kids being chosen as prom royalty and I’m just amazed, especially when I think back on how badly my one out gay friend was treated (and how many other gay friends weren’t out).

I also think the internet has changed the way we think, and more so for those who have had it throughout their formative years. I really enjoyed the book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. (Link: The Shallows (book) - Google Search) It’s not as doom-and-gloom as it sounds; it’s actually an interesting look at how literacy itself first changed the way we learn and recall information, and now how the internet is changing things again, not necessarily for the worse.

From what I can tell, childhood these days doesn’t seem to be quite as “Lord of the Flies” as it once was. I’m not sure what defines the pecking order these days, but it doesn’t seem to be the classic male aggression/athletic abilities like it was when I was a kid. There seems to be a lot more tolerance and acceptance of differences- racial, ability, interest, looks, etc… It doesn’t seem to be nearly the jockocracy that it was back in the 80s. While it was never quite as bad as in the movies, there was a definite pecking order among boys where high status tended to track pretty closely with athletic ability and/or general willingness to fight/not take shit.

Oddly enough I kinda find myself agreeing with both of these( caution: not a parent, so my observations are purely second-hand ). I grew up, mostly contentedly, as a latch-key kid with a lot of independence and I can see some benefit of that. But I see my brother’s and peers with their much greater involvement with their kid’s lives and their activities and I see an awful lot of value in that as well.

I’m not entirely sure one is vastly superior to the other in terms of adult development. I was certainly loved and secure as a kid. And the neglect, such as it was, was indeed mostly benign. In a sense I was a moderately successful outcome of that style of parenting. But I suspect as a generation we may have had a larger percentage of kids who fell through the cracks.

So I think I’m leaning just a bit in the more modern direction. The current generation may be a bit more coddled, which can have its own different set of negative outcomes. But I think it might be a bit better overall for the entire cohort.

Right – kids an the average are more obese now than they were before, and therefore more diabetic.

One thing I notice right off - my 2-y/o granddaughter is more computer savvy than her great grandparents. Also, to her, every screen should be a touch-screen. So she’s starting off from a place very different even from her own parents, and ridiculously different from my youth.

On the other hand, she loves swings and slides and dogs and cats and chasing bubbles and playing in her sandbox. I look forward to what comes next.

Too much influence from social media.
I may have grown up with peer pressure but could easily resist. But when today’s kids are bombarded with messages from celebs and rappers about weed culture etc., it’s viewed as hip and “why aren’t you doing it?”

For whatever it’s worth, at least among my son’s friends, the most popular game for 2nd graders is still Tag. Put three or more kids in a green space, and Tag starts almost immediately. Second favorite is some variety of “you be a cowboy with a gun and I will be an alien with a gun”. And the playgrounds and libraries around my town are always busy. So yeah, they are more tech-savy, but they are still little bundles of imagination and energy.

I think the credulity of this generation will be different: they are growing up in a world where nearly everybody has a camera and video recording ability - if something is not depicted visually, they may be less likely to believe it.

Similarly, they may be the generation that is so inundated with unreliable information (be it manipulated video or merely outrageous partisan news) that they become far more critical in their analysis of any new thing - the ‘skeptical’ generation, in other words. I think this would be a good thing.

“Be sure to drink your Ovaltine!” :wink:

I think the only way in which there’s any real difference in children that isn’t superficial-- which is to say, if you plucked a baby from 1940, and gave it to parents in 2000 to raise, it would be exactly the same as other 20-year-olds right now, is that people are more genetically diverse than they would have been in Socrates time.

My son had a friend in preschool who was born in the US, and therefore a citizen of the US, and her mother had also been born a citizen of the US, but her maternal grandparents had been one born Nigerian, and one, Vietnamese. Meanwhile, her father had been born a Scotsman, from a long line of Scotsmen, and was a naturalized US citizen.

So many children are able to be termed “mixed race,” or “mixed ethnicity,” that it is becoming more the norm than coming from “a long line” of something.

Now, I realize that races and ethnicities are mostly social constructs-- but tell it to the Ashkenazic couple who has an amniocentesis for each pregnancy, and has aborted two because they were positive for Tay-Sachs, and are dealing with eventually telling one child that she is a carrier for the disease; or tell it to people of African ancestry with sickle-cell anemia.

Anyway, greater genetic diversity might lead to fewer children with genetic disorders. Some very rare ones may even virtually disappear. Some of them may be subtle and not even identified when they disappear.

However, there are other things going on that are probably leading to greater incidences of things such as ADHD and cerebral palsy. Both of those are are common in premature children, and the technology both to save earlier and earlier deliveries, as well as allowing women with high-risk pregnancies to carry longer and longer-- but still not to full-term, so that more preemies are born in the first place will lead to greater incidences of prematurity-linked problems.

Another thing leading to changes in children is reproductive technologies that are making multiples much more common.

Two years ago in my religious school class, I had a set of triplets, and five sets of twins. I had 13 children who were part of a set of multiples, and 9 children who were not.

In the preschool, over nine classes with an average of 14 children per class, we have six sets of twins, a set of triplets, and a set of quintuplets, I’m not lying. And one of the sets of twins we have now are the younger siblings of a set of twins we had three years ago. The family has two sets of twins.

I confess that I do not know for certain reproductive technology was involved in every set, but I do know it was involved in several. So far, our parents seem to have gotten pretty lucky, and the children all seem healthy-- but these are people who really could afford the very best care, and could afford for the mother to go on bedrest for four months if the doctor insisted. And some of the children did have interventions after birth. I know, because it’s an expensive preschool.

So, to my mind, none of the differences are the technology they confront as children. Every generation confronts new technology. One generation once had a wagon with wheels on an axle hitched to a team of two horse, instead of just riding on the back of a horse. His father probably thought his idea to travel with the tools of his trade and look for a city that needed his trade, and settle there, performing it itinerantly until he did, was crazy. But he was a younger son, and never very useful in the family business, with the two oldest were running it just fine, and the very youngest had joined the clergy, so let this one do what he wanted.

But the technology that creates them is different.

We’ve used folk medicine, and attempts at reproductive manipulation, as well as abortion, for a very long time, but I submit that the current level of technology around birth and reproduction, as well as social attitudes around coupling, marrying, and mating, are such that children have changed physically. Not hugely. Not as much as when Cro-magnons mated with Neanderthals.

But for one thing, we may literally stamp out racism by making it irrelevant, or obsolete.

And at least children who were premature and have learning difficulties may get better intervention than children with school difficulties in the past.

I am a teacher and have been since early 2002. Amazingly, that is 18 years! Yes, I feel old, too.

Some unexpected observations from me:

  1. Kids are less tech. savvy in terms of computer usage. You might think kids know more, but they mainly know how to use basic apps on phones. Their deeper knowledge of computers is, I think, less. Many schools have taken out basic computers classes and computers are less used in homes now that people have tablets and phones. They know phones and apps. They do not know Windows or OS X or even just basic computer stuff.

  2. Kids have been exposed to more on the internet, so they know more than we did at their age. Many parents allow their kids total free and unfiltered access to the internet. In their rooms, all alone. No checking on them. This has lead to a HUGE gap in sexual and other areas of knowledge. Some kids in middle school only know the basics of sex(naive and innocent). Some have watched every single act imaginable that the internet has to offer. I…guess this existed years ago, but I think portable smart phones/tablets have made private internet even more common for kids.

  3. Kids know nothing about internet security and unless supervised by parents(many are not in this area), they openly post way too many things they should never post.

Just my take on it, though. I’m sure there are more things out there, but this is my first set of thoughts.