David Trinko: The kids are all right

May 4—We've all heard the stereotypes about today's youth: They're unmotivated. They're selfish. They're always glued to their phones. They're just not going to be productive in society.

After spending quite a bit of time with teens over the last few weeks, let me assure you we're not doomed. We're in good hands.

I've found them to be open to new ideas, anxious to try new things and ready to take on the world. Despite all our worries about a generation unable to follow social cues, I've found they're better at maintaining eye contact than I am.

I recently wrapped up another year helping with Allen Lima Youth Leadership, a fine program that teaches leadership skills and allows high schoolers to envision their own solutions to the region's problems. It's always enlightening to see what issues affect them most and the imaginative solutions they create out of thin air.

I also spent last weekend volunteering at the post-prom at my kids' high school, seeing how they unwound in a safe environment. While eavesdropping on some teens, I found their conversations more than adequate as they discussed the world around them. Very few of them retreated to their screens, instead focusing on the myriad of activities we had set up for them.

I also continue to chip in as a youth coach, with softball games just around the corner for a younger audience.

Despite all these positive interactions, I still hear adults complaining about the kids today.

I've spent too much of my life dealing in tropes and stereotypes when it comes to the different age groups. It's common to be frustrated by any generation that behaves differently than yours did.

With this particular generation, some of the complaints seem a bit hypocritical.

Let's start with the complaint about kids being glued to their phones. Yes, they spend a lot of time looking at them. Sometimes that information gathering is valuable.

We should take a good look in the mirror — or our browser history — before we object. I noticed as we waited for the students at post-prom, many of the other parents scrolled through their phones instead of talking to one another. I also noticed that some people in the older generations spend an awful lot of time watching TVs. We all love our screens; we just think other people's are the problem.

Similarly, it's easy to pick at the youth for their fascination with YouTubers' lives. Yet many of us of a certain age could tell you the names of most of Brad Pitt's love interests. If he's not of your generation, perhaps you'd like to run through Elizabeth Taylor's eight marriages to seven men instead.

If you don't like the new breed of music, remember that your parents didn't like yours either, whether it was Nirvana, Michael Jackson, the Beatles, Elvis or the blues.

Yes, there are generation gaps, and it can be difficult to communicate between them. That's no reason to assume the world's going downhill, though. Just spend some time in the world of a young person, and you'll see that we're all going to be just fine.


See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at dtrinko@limanews.com or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.