With everything they need being accessible, has the youth today become so consumed with their material desires that they have failed to realize the value of the luxuries they take for granted? Read along to find out.
“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”
― Henry David Thoreau, Familiar Letters
My father always tells me stories of the time when he was a teenager, he would have to help around with chores, take care of his younger siblings, and of course, study. Belonging to a humble background, his wants were simple too.
These days, ask a teenager what he wants, and the answer is going to be a new phone, a new laptop, designer clothes, or may be a new car, but ask the same kid to run some errands, babysit for a sibling, or even clean his room, and you may not get a very enthusiastic response. This response is typical of any teenage kid.
Why is it that youngsters today are the way they are? Are they really so engrossed in themselves that they’ve forgotten the bigger picture? Let’s find out.
Is the Young Generation Materialistic?
According to San Diego State University Psychology Professor Jean M. Twenge, the author of the book Generation Me, young adults are more materialistic but less willing to work hard. He based this conclusion on a study carried out by Twenge and Professor Tim Kasser of Knox College.
The youth today is so engrossed in people perceiving them with the kind of phones they have, the labels they wear, and the car they drive that they have forgotten what really matters―the mettle within.
Twenge and Kasser concluded from a nationally representative survey conducted from the year 1976 to the 2007, that 62% of young adults thought it was necessary to have a lot of money in the years between 2005-2007 as compared to 48% of the youth believed the same in the years 1976-1978. This study also noted that an increase in materialism has been seen in the youth in the 1980s.
With the kind of pressure to fit in, it’s no wonder that kids these days are more inclined towards fancy stuff, in a way making the youth more materialistic. With their self-image attached to possessions, their self-esteem is extremely low, harboring traits like insecurity, selfishness, and jealousy.
The youth of today are more attached to the idea of owning fancy things than the idea of nurturing bonds that may last for life. The dream today is to be rich rather than becoming a visionary. With parents spending 5 times more on their kids, catering to every whim of theirs, could it even come as a surprise.
The same study mentioned above also stated that 39% of high school graduates admitted they didn’t want to work hard between the years 2005-2007, this number was only 25% in the year 1976-1978.
In a generation where all ‘trophy kids’ who are rewarded just for showing up, youth today has been trained to get everything and anything they want without having to work for it; it’s a sweet deal, isn’t it? Everything they want is either a click away or is a brownie point for doing things they are already supposed to. May be that is the reason why kids these days are always looking for shortcuts to get things done, and frankly, who could blame them.
This study also found that materialism was highest in the phase when advertising spending made a greater part of America’s economy, suggesting that advertising may have had a crucial role to play in the development of materialism in the youth. According to Twenge, this might even explain the gap that exists between materialism and the unwillingness of the youth to work, as advertisements never really show the hard work one needs to put in to earn the money needed to buy the product being advertised.
Are There Any Downsides To This?
With a large number of youth being attached to materialistic desires rather than developing appropriate social bonds, the quality of the lives they live is in serious jeopardy. With the lack of drive to fulfill such never-ending materialistic needs, it is truly dreadful to imagine what kind of steps can be undertaken to achieve them. With the ‘good life’ being promoted as the ‘goods life’, failure to achieve the achieve this dream quickly could result in them suffer from psychological problems like depression, stress, hopelessness, and low self-esteem.
Our children are what we, as a society, shape them into. They are capable of being great visionaries and leaders working for the greater good. But with the current scenario, it is truly horrifying to imagine the fate of our world filled with highly narcissistic and materialistic individuals.