The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future(Or, Don 't Trust Anyone Under 30)
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This shocking, surprisingly entertaining romp into the intellectual nether regions of today's underthirty set reveals the disturbing and, ultimately, incontrovertible truth: cyberculture is turning us into a society of know-nothings.
The Dumbest Generation is a dire report on the intellectual life of young adults and a timely warning of its impact on American democracy and culture.
For decades, concern has been brewing about the dumbed-down popular culture available to young people and the impact it has on their futures. But at the dawn of the digital age, many thought they saw an answer: the internet, email, blogs, and interactive and hyper-realistic video games promised to yield a generation of sharper, more aware, and intellectually sophisticated children. The terms “information superhighway” and “knowledge economy” entered the lexicon, and we assumed that teens would use their knowledge and understanding of technology to set themselves apart as the vanguards of this new digital era.
That was the promise. But the enlightenment didn’t happen. The technology that was supposed to make young adults more aware, diversify their tastes, and improve their verbal skills has had the opposite effect. According to recent reports from the National Endowment for the Arts, most young people in the United States do not read literature, visit museums, or vote. They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount basic American history, name their local political representatives, or locate Iraq or Israel on a map. The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future is a startling examination of the intellectual life of young adults and a timely warning of its impact on American culture and democracy.
Over the last few decades, how we view adolescence itself has changed, growing from a pitstop on the road to adulthood to its own space in society, wholly separate from adult life. This change in adolescent culture has gone hand in hand with an insidious infantilization of our culture at large; as adolescents continue to disengage from the adult world, they have built their own, acquiring more spending money, steering classrooms and culture towards their own needs and interests, and now using the technology once promoted as the greatest hope for their futures to indulge in diversions, from MySpace to multiplayer video games, 24/7.
Can a nation continue to enjoy political and economic predominance if its citizens refuse to grow up? Drawing upon exhaustive research, personal anecdotes, and historical and social analysis, The Dumbest Generation presents a portrait of the young American mind at this critical juncture, and lays out a compelling vision of how we might address its deficiencies. The Dumbest Generation pulls no punches as it reveals the true cost of the digital age—and our last chance to fix it.
entire course of human economic and technological history,” the screen rises into a better and faster teacher than the textbook. Bibliophiles end up in the rearguard, bereft of cultural capital, forced to reargue the case for books. Most of the time, they lose. To argue against screen diversions is to take on an economic and cultural juggernaut, and an even stronger force, too: the penchants of adolescents. An April 2007 Education Week article whose header runs “Young people typically plug in to
kids assimilate them with accelerating ease, adding one without dropping another. Forty-year-olds don’t get it, the cluttered airspace, the joy in multiple input. Growing up in what appears to their offspring a sluggish and elementary sensory ambiance, they welcome the latest invention as an add-on, something else to do besides reading the newspaper or watching a movie. Kids regard it differently. They mature in and with the flashing, evolving multimedia environment, integrating each development
and creators in arts and humanities fields, and pro-knowledge, pro-tradition conceptions strike them as bluntly unpleasant, if not reactionary and out of touch. Indeed, the particular mode of sympathy for the kids has taken such a firm hold that offering education as a fruitful dialectic of tradition and individuality looks downright smothering. Uttered so rarely in education circles, a modest opinion in favor of tradition comes across to experts and mentors as an aggression against the students,
only three points in judging students “Very well prepared” to “work hard.” The decrease indicates that the problem lies not in the students’ diligence but in their intellectual tool kits, and that the energy students devote to schoolwork (and leisure play) often dodges activities that build college-level knowledge and skills. One of the most precious tools they lack does not appear in predominant education philosophies, however, nor does it shape training programs for teachers and professors,
(National Endowment for the Arts) charted several exposures over the preceding 12 months to record the bare presence of the fine arts in individuals’ lives. Except for people 75 and older, 18- to 24-year -olds emerged with the lowest rates of all age groups. Only one in 10 attended a jazz performance, and one in 12 attended a classical music performance. Only 2.6 percent of them saw a ballet, 11.4 percent a play. Less than one in four (23.7 percent) stepped inside a museum or gallery during the