It's like an epidemic lately. I've heard so many parents claim that their kids have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (a.k.a., ADHD), that I question whether all those kids were actually diagnosed by a bona fide mental health professional, or if parents just carelessly use medical terms to describe their child's behavior. I don't doubt that some of those children probably really have the disorder, but it makes me wonder if that many really do. I tend to think that saying "my kid has ADHD" is just a fashionable way of saying "my kid is undisciplined".
I've read some articles theorizing that the new generation's proneness to boredom, their aggression and their lack of focus is due to the high-speed bombardment of media now easily available to them. i.e., Due to quick-click entertainment and instantly accessible information, their minds have gotten used to being undisciplined. Yeah, blame the internet.
It makes me laugh to remember how when we were kids, our grandmothers sermonized on the evils of the boob tube. These days, the telly is comparatively harmless. A TV addiction almost sounds lame compared to pathological computer use.
While internet addiction plagues kids and adults alike, we "grown-ups" love to point out how uncanny it is for kids to be so dependent on their gadgets. It seems a little wrong or at least funny to us if a teen boy can't live without wi-fi for a day, or if a tween girl totes the latest cellphone to tweet her friends every ten seconds.
I guess it's because when we were kids, only rich businessmen had laptops and cellphones - youngsters using gadgets for fun was unheard of until fairly recently. I suppose we still hold this notion that children should have fun by playing with other children, and that playing means actual physical activity. Well, them youngsters believe that too, but they prefer to do things online. Their idea of physical activity may as well involve moving fingers over a keypad. If kids back in the day got scolded for spending too much time outside, kids nowadays practically need to be dragged to the sunny outdoors. I'm not saying it's necessarily bad; all I'm saying is it's their thing.
It gets bad if in their techno-dependence, they wouldn't know how to live without their electronics. A prolonged power failure would be like the end of the world - they can't play their games, can't download their music, can't update their status, can't do their homework, and worst - can't charge their batteries (I've witnessed some young relatives go through a painful withdrawal when we went on a family field-trip, and it was very unpleasant).
That picture triggers a bit of pride over my generation's ingenuity - we were often bored as children too, but we knew how to make our own "entertainment". We could generate fun from everyday objects like rubber bands and twigs. We used our imagination. A bunch of cardboard boxes can be a fort or a race car, a sidewalk can be a sparkling road to Rainbow land, and there were a hundred wonders we can do with soap and water.
When I was a kid, a power failure was a reason to go outside and play patintero under the stars; if it rained during a blackout, we stayed indoors and experimented on the effects of candle-flame on various objects (marshmallows, crayons, GI Joes), or collected molten candle-wax into balls. When we got tired of that, we made light shows on the ceilings with our flashlights.
We had our computer games, but we knew how to make friends - as in, face-to-face, flesh-and-blood friends, not digital representations. We didn't feel the need to tell them what we were doing every five seconds, because we spent time with them in the flesh.
We loved the television, but we also appreciated books. If we had homework that involved a little research, we knew how to use the library. We we didn't instantly transmit data electronically; we actually wrote notes, meaning we had to learn how to spell, conjugate and punctuate. We eventually learned the fancy shmancy software when they came into our lives later, but we first knew to draw, make models, draft blueprints, make movies and do everything by hand.
Oh, the pre-digital age wonder years. Those times weren't as convenient as today, but we certainly weren't unfortunate to live as children in them.
Kids today would make fun of all that and call us old school, but in spite of their chiding, it isn't so shameful to be so "old school". Because we didn't have the option to be impatient if things weren't available in one click, we're equipped with a little more patience, ingenuity and discipline. I personally sometimes feel the need to rub it in - i mean, these "admirable qualities rather scarce in today's youth" - whenever I hear a kid make ignorant remarks implying old is backward or irrelevant. But of course without sounding like my grandmother on a "When I was your age" sermon.
To be fair to the young ones: despite their propensity toward ADHD (genuine disorder or otherwise), they do have the tendency to be multitalented and the capacity to be more intelligent (* tendency and capacity - there is the potential; it is neither actual nor definite). I'm not writing their generation off the way older ones did ours by naming us "X". The ADHD batch might just bring a lot of good into the world in the not-so-distant future, we just haven't seen them in action yet.