Talking ’Bout the Young Folks

1204132283It’s been a while since I was a kid. Back in my high school days Britney Spears was (evidently) sane, people accessed the internet by using AOL and a dial-up modem, and my cell phone only made telephone calls.

Nowadays, the kids have MySpace, Facebook, and iPods to distract them from their pursuit of knowledge. A new book posits that the onslaught of technology has rendered America’s youth stupid.

On WBZ’s morning show, Dan Robichaud discussed The Dumbest Generation. (Ironically, the web clip is preceded by an ad in which Liz Walker says she wants to talk to more young people because they are the future.) Robichaud cites data from a group called Common Core.

It surveyed 1,200 17-year-olds and found that 26 percent thought Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1750, and 25 percent couldn’t identify Adolf Hitler as Germany’s chancellor during World War II. One kid even thought Joseph McCarthy was the congressman who solicited sex in an airport bathroom last summer.

Come on, kids. “Ocean blue” and “1492” rhyme. It’s a dead giveaway.

Their idiocy when it comes to basic American history is pretty damning. But teenagers are even slipping in the area where they’ve excelled for generations—being wise to adults. Today’s Globe happily announces that teen smoking in Massachusetts dropped to a 15-year low.

Here’s how it happened.

More money is being devoted to antitobacco campaigns now than in any year since 2002, and the secret weapon in the state’s reinvigorated arsenal: the teenagers themselves.

“These efforts are effective because adolescents are often rebellious, and so, not infrequently, they are ignoring the messages they get from authority figures, like their parents and teachers,” said John Auerbach, the state’s public health commissioner. “They’re less likely to ignore those messages when coming from people that are just like them.”

When you break it down, all that’s really happening is that adults are using narc teenagers as puppets to get their message across. Back in our day, we would have lit up just out of spite while watching Clerks.

Maybe teenagers are getting stupid. Either that, or all that internet use has tied up their fingers so much that they can’t juggle a cigarette as well as their iPhone.