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A View from Brad King

NYTimes: Parents 'Forced' to Upgrade Kids' Social Technology

The New York Times has, quite possibly, the most ridiculous story about technology and its place in the teenage social hierarchy. The story essentially says that teenagers are increasingly putting pressure on their parents, who are caving into the wanton…

  • May 29, 2005

The New York Times has, quite possibly, the most ridiculous story about technology and its place in the teenage social hierarchy. The story essentially says that teenagers are increasingly putting pressure on their parents, who are caving into the wanton desires of their children, so that they can have the latest and coolest tech gadgets.

It is a vortex of contemporary social currents: teenagers’ longing outstrips their ability to satisfy it and collides with most parents’ hope to teach restraint and fiscal responsibility. The issue is not just pressing for the middle class. Teenagers of all economic groups are exposed to the same advertising and social pressures, and families rich and poor struggle with how and how much to provide.

I’m sitting here with my girlfriend, who is a tech-savvy (and Appalachian) as me, and running this story by her just to make sure that I’ve not lost my mind. Outside of the fact that I’m fairly convinced that parents in this country, on some level, have lost the ability to tell their children ‘no’, there is also the problem that these parents are teaching their children very important lessons about class status.

For other thoughts related to this subject, read our esteemed writer James Surowiecki’s piece in January about “Technology and Happiness”.

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