Saturday, November 5, 2011

T-T-T-Talking 'Bout Your Generation

Actually, not quite: Stickman's problem with the MTV Generation is probably himself. Especially since I can't help wondering how he can measure the length of someone else's attention span with a glance, and how he knows that attention spans in general have shrunk.

I liked this New York Times Magazine piece.
And speaking of sitting silently without fidgeting: that’s essentially what we want of children with bum attention spans, isn’t it? The first sign that a distractible child is doing “better” — with age or Adderall, say — is that he sits still. This is why the A.D.H.D. diagnosis, which popularized the idea of an “attention span” that can be pathologically short, grew out of the old “hyperactive” diagnosis. The hyperactive child squirmed at church and at the dinner table, embarrassing his mother.
Compare the conclusion to this alarmist USA Today article:
"This should be a wake-up call that we need to take a closer look at how early media use affects children," says Vicky Rideout of the Kaiser Family Foundation. "We know hardly anything about it."
Exactly: We know hardly anything about it. But that doesn't keep "us" from knowing that something's wrong, even though "we" (like Mr. Stickman) also grew up in front of the TV, like "our" parents before "us." (Me, for example, though I'm not a parent. I'm of the first TV generation, from the 1950s. Notice my short attention span.) Is nothing sacred? This is tradition we're talking about.