Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teenage Socialization Hits a Speed Bump

"Wi-Fi Turns Rowdy Bus Into Rolling Study Hall" proclaimed this article from the NY Times on Feb. 11th.

Using the example of a school bus in Arizona, the Times went on to show how wi-fi enabled school buses are allowing kids to settle down and get their work done. Or play video games.

Does this make any body else a little sad?

I imagine teenagers (and younger kids) already engrossed themselves in some pseudo social activity like texting while riding the school bus. But isn't part of becoming an adult--an adult who can deal with all types of people--learning how to handle the fat bully in the back of the bus?

I realize to someone only 5 years younger, I must sound like a grandma reminiscing about the days when 16 year olds did not have cell phones and if they did, it was only to dial 911 when they wrecked the family Volvo.

But with all of this technology invading every aspect of our lives--including, apparently, the school bus--aren't we missing out on some part of the human experience? You know, the one when you talk to other people, face to face? Or tie the shoelaces together of the girl you have a crush on? Or get punched in the gut by a bully?

Having kids play video games is "a whole lot better than having them bugging each other,” said the bus driver in the article. But is it? Is it really? Isn't it kind of better for "stir-crazy teenagers" to be "teasing, texting, flirting, shouting, climbing (over seats) and sometimes punching (seats or seatmates)." It's part of social development.

I'd argue it's worth a few spit wads in the driver's hair now and again to give teenagers a half-hour of non-virtual social interaction.

That way, the driver and the teenagers will have something fun to put on their Facebook updates when the ride is over.

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