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The largest generation of young people has come of age. They are called “Echo Boomers” because they are the genetic offspring of their parents, the “Baby Boomers”.

Born between 1982 and 1995 some are barely out of college and the remainder are still in high school. They are the first to have grown up with computers in the home in a 500 channel universe. The new generation are multi-taskers adept at music downloading and instant messaging on the Internet. They are totally plugged-in citizens of a world wide community.

In the USA there are 80 million of them spending $170 billion of their own and their parent’s money.

The youngsters I counsel are into Sony Electronics, The Gap/Club Monaco clothes, Diesel watches “sweet” trendy Mini cars that move.

The “Helicopter parents”, I love the description, hover over their trophy like children. The super-duper youngsters have learned that they are a precious, protected, fragile commodity.

They have been belted into car seats and driven to organized group activities for ever. Religious, language classes, karate, soccer, football, swimming, tennis, sports camps, ballet and piano lessons are a must for the socially adept parents.

There is barely a day off to veg. Structure and a sense of mission are buzz words for many caring parents. It is sure hard to tell your child to go out and play all by themselves. Many parents have been taught by their kids that television, computer games, texting, cell phones are necessary integral part of their daily existence. The folks are willing to pay $40.00 per month to the cell phone providers to keep their children connected.

Our children are wired into a complex world of gadgets. Observe a group of teens at the mall and you will discover that they are attached to their umbilical like cell phones.

We have not allowed our children to be bored and simply veg out with God forbid nothing to do but perhaps dream of the freedom from the rigidity that their parents have taught them.

This is a generation of pleasers. They want to please their parents, friends and teachers. What a difference to the defiance of the students in the sixties. Long haired students at Kent State chanting, “hell no we will not go” has been replaced by a generation of compliant youngsters who follow along and do not question.

The Echo generation are very different to their parents. Individualism has been replaced by conformity and adhering to the school group norm. Don’t rock the boat baby. Team work is the name of the game, team teaching, group projects etc. Leadership and diverse thinking that may challenge the status quo is not often encouraged.

Sadly, instant gratification is the name of the game for many teens. Everything has to be immediate- like a video game. The vast majority have trouble thinking and planning long-range future goals. They think that they will be immediate heroes and heroines.

Many teens that I see in my practice are way over stressed; driven to achieve in order to be the best and fit in to the hopes and aspirations set by their parents. They see themselves as having to be nearly perfect in every way. To survive many young people learn the art of procrastinating, putting off the expectations of their parents to be the star athlete, musician and of course top student in the school.

Mom/dad please love your family and allow your youngsters to be bored, laugh and enjoy their childhood. Perfectly stressed out students/children pay the price.

My advice to parents is to love your children enough to allow them some freedom to enjoy their youth and just be kids.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com