Kids These Days
For about a year, I worked at a pizza place while I was trying to do what twenty-somethings do best and find myself. (As it so happens, I had been passed out in my own sick behind a bagel shop, but whatever. Journey of self-discovery and blah.) The restaurant was largely geared towards kids, what with the goofy shit on the walls and the board games behind the counter.
One of my main jobs was to clean up after the little angels. You know, picking up the pizza that they would drop on the floor, wiping the boogers off of the table tops. Stuff like that. To be honest, it wasn’t so bad, because most of the time people would just ignore us and let us do our job.
But one night, there was a basketball team celebrating the end of its season with us. Nothing says “Congrats on three months of exercise!” like gobbling up a nine-topping slice of heart failure.
At one point, we were trying to tell them politely to get the fuck out by picking up dishes and whatnot, but to no avail. As we tried to circumnavigate the drunk parents and the obnoxious kids, we came upon a large pocket of kids huddled around an iPhone.
“Excuse me,” my coworker said.
The kid with the phone looked up briefly then went right back to playing Fruit Ninja.
“Hey, excuse me, we have to get these plates,” she said again. This time he didn’t look up.
“Hey!” I yelled. “She’s talking to you.” He begrudgingly moved two feet to the left.
That’s when I looked up and noticed: kid with cell phone there, kid with cell phone there, and there, and there. As the days went on, I noticed kids walking by our restaurant with iPhones and Droids and touch screens and sliding keyboards galore.
They all looked like zombies, concentrating, mouths agape, on Words with Friends. I mean, they were playing with each other, but they weren’t interacting. There was a lack of humanity in their fun. And it got me thinking about kids and how effing spoiled they are.
I mean, generationally, adults will always give the same old: “Kids these days! Why, in my day, I only had a block of wood and some lead paint to play with.” But this time it’s a little different. Giving nine- and ten-year-olds cell phones that connect them to apps and games and the internet is speeding up the process of becoming a jaded little asshole. It’s hard to be connected to the real world when you’ve got to figure out a way to draw “petal” in Draw Something.
True, I grew up with GameBoy and Tamagotchi, but, in my experience, parents at that time were still connected to the real world, so kids had to be as well. Now parents are glued to their smart phones, and they’re teaching their kids the same habits. Mommy’s busy honey. Ask Facebook if it’s okay to go to Susie’s house.
But, children need to adapt to the modern world just as much as adults do. And this has left me wondering: are cell phones truly detrimental to their development, or are they just the new Tamagotchis? Is there truly a purpose to spending $300 on Little Johnny, or is it just another way for parents to ignore their kids and vice versa?
In short: do kids really need cell phones? So, just for scientific purposes, I decided to compare my cell-phone usage (as a real, live kind-of adult) to that of a ten-year-old.
My conclusion? I probably need to grow up a little bit, but kids still don’t need fucking cell phones. And if they do, they can get those phones that store five numbers: mom, dad, grandma, 911, and Domino’s.