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A couple of weeks ago CBS's 60 Minutes program offered a glimpse at the present youth culture.

The largest generation of young people is beginning to come of age. They are called "Echo Boomers" because they are the genetic offspring of their parents, the "Baby Boomers".

Born between 1982 and 1995some are barely out of college and the remainder still in elementary 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 US of A there are 80 million of them spending $170 billion of their own and their parent's money.
The youngsters 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 children who are now into their 20's. 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 caring parents. It is sure hard to tell your child to go out and play- all by themselves.
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 Long haired students at Kent State chanting, "hell no we will not go" has been replaced by a generation of compliant youngsters who follow along and do not question.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 Individualism has been replaced by conformity and adhering to the group norm.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 encouraged.

I remember a young man who failed Don Mc Queen's history exam asking, do you know who my father is ? No, Don replied, do you know who my dad is? Go home and study.
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 They think that they will be immediate heroes and heroines.

Many parents program their children to protect them against hard times. Dr John Sweeney and I recently shared our memories of working on construction and the railway to pay our way through university. The dirt and hard work were important mile stones in our growing up.

Many teens that I see are over stressed - driven to achieve in order to be the best and fit in to the norm. Many see themselves as having to be nearly perfect in every way.
Mom/dad please love your family and allow your youngsters to be bored, laugh and enjoy their childhood.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com