Take one bright teenager with undeveloped frontal lobes, a victim of early schoolyard bullying that led to anxiety and anger issues, then combine that with video games and indulgent parents to get a recipe for disaster. The drums have been sounding warnings for years, but they get stronger each day as the evidence mounts that we are losing teens to disabling panic attacks (especially when they have to leave their virtual world for the real one) and ambivalence about the future. They are lethargic or, worse, arrogant, entitled, and mean-spirited. This is the virtual generation—not millennials but simulants—and soon, I fear, a lost generation.
The warnings are louder, the answers lost in the tidal wave of social media, new tech, and frightened parents. Parents are blackmailed by fear of self-destructive behavior, drugs, homelessness, and even violence if they make demands, limit, or deny access to the virtual world these young people now inhabit.
This phenomenon is not just rampant across America, but certainly the ethos in the US lends itself to a particularly venal environment that entraps these children.
Rules, responsibilities, and goals are love. When parents are indulgent, providing rewards without corresponding effort, appeasing rather than inspiring, they are not bestowing love but behavior that emotionally cripples. It’s time for ALL of us to give up our love affair with fantasy, live in the real world, and help our children to reside there as well. Life is a struggle; it is what gives us purpose and meaning. Don’t deny it to the ones you are most responsible for—your children.