The Blog

Post-Looting Meditation: The Responsibility of the Internet in the Youth's Misbehaviour

I was born in the pre-Internet Era. In my childhood and adolescence we communicated by regular telephone (the one connected to the wall) and snail-mail. It was a slow time. We learned to wait.

I see two superimposed images and my brain makes connections: nephews and nieces and their wealthy friends in Southern Finland; 2.the youth that broke in stores at the London/Manchester/etc. riots.

It shocked me to see in the Web a video of kids breaking in a store: they were having a ball. No sign of a consciousness of the immorality of their act. They just wanted things; no political ideology or high idealism inspired them. As they lacked the money to buy, they stole, just like 3 year-olds who see a toy in the hand of a little boy and grab it. My nephews and their friends seem to also only care about things, brand and status. They want to own; that will make them cool in front of their peers. And secondly, they haven't learned to wait, because they never sent a letter through the snail-mail, or waited to get home to call their friends: they carry their touch-sensitive super phones with an Internet connection with them 24/7. Quite something! And the ones whose parents can´t afford it, dream of them, or steal them.

So, the omnipresent Internet teaches two basic things to kids that have no critical aptitudes yet: immediacy and superabundance. It takes, what, less than a second to send a message to somebody in the other side of the world? Great, that's reality. And hey, the Internet is just spilling with glossy images of things that can be yours before you can say Jack Robinson... if you have money!

It's been investigated how spending many hours in the Internet is modifying the neurological functioning of the brain and this is turning kids into creatures with a very short attention span, thus an incapacity to concentrate for long periods of time, and content illiteracy (can read but don't understand what they read). Kids today prefer the Internet to TV, sports, and not mention books. Books?! Gee, sounds so mouldy! Most of the kids I've taught at junior high told me they can't stand reading because it's so slow, nothing happens.

And parents today want to please their kids. Why? I don't know. But even though they didn't have Internet as kids, they have adapted to its rhythm (immediacy) and accepted it as the pacesetter at home.

So I read that some people find responsible of the British kids' looting the cities and the State for not providing them with places to hang out. Are we talking about fun parks? Is entertainment the medicine for curing vandalism? What's going on in the Western world?

Immediacy and superabundance are archenemies of discipline and striving. The looting kids obviously have a tragic lack of education at home. If the State wants to fill in for the parents, good for it! Poor kids, who have no good homes where they are respected and loved and taught good, solid values. But the young vandals don't need entertainment or money to buy skate caps and hot brand T-shirts; they need a backbone, discipline, and education. They need to learn to work and wait.

The Internet might have great virtues, but it has awful vices that are doing no good to the children. Parents could be a little more sceptic and control the hours their kids surf in the Net. It's not harmless. Just look around you with critical eyes.