This is an alarming article and a must read for anyone working with teenage boys or raising boys. Read it here: “The Demise of Guys”
There were a number of sentences that grabbed me. Such as,
“This new kind of human addictive arousal traps users into an expanded present hedonistic time zone. Past and future are distant and remote as the present moment expands to dominate everything.”
We’ve been talking about this at youth group over the past six weeks. Fact is, today’s youth are all about living for the “present moment.” No regrets is the mantra. That’s why trite phrases like “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) are on the tip of our teens’ tongues, and as dumb as they claim the phrase is, it pops up on my Facebook feed quite frequently. It’s what makes Whiz Kalifa’s song, “Young, Wild, and Free,” so popular. The lyrics:
“So what we get drunkSo what we smoke weekWe’re just having funWe don’t care who seesSo what we go outThat’s how it’s supposed to beLiving young, and wild, and free”
So what? So what we watch porn. So what we play violent video games. So what? Get over it. YOLO.
That is what I consistently hear not only from today’s teens, but from my generation as well. I’m 31. I remember when Grand Theft Auto was all the rage! I remember when we, yes even we good Christian kids, spent hours with the PS2 stealing cars, shooting people, and sleeping with prostitutes because that’s how you were rewarded in the game. But it didn’t affect us, right?
So why is my generation finding it harder and harder to grow up? Why is my generation finding it harder and harder to keep a job, find stability in relationships, and stay in one place for longer than a year? Does it have anything to do with the instant gratification we’ve taught ourselves through video games and other online escapades? Surely not! These are just for fun, right?
It’s a scientific fact that our brains can be programmed by our actions, and that repeated actions begin to wire our brain. This is the danger in any addictive behavior – it will change you, reprogram you, and next thing you know, it’s out of control. Yes, even addictive behaviors such as playing video games and watching porn.
In John Medina’s excellent book, Brain Rules, he has a whole chapter on “Wiring.” He writes,
“Our brains are so sensitive to external inputs that their physical wiring depends upon the culture in which they find themselves.”
Did you really read that closely? Our brains are super sensitive to external inputs. Ok. So sensitive, in fact, that their physical wiring depends upon the culture in which they find themselves.
Well then, that begs the question: What is the culture in which our teens' BRAINS are hanging out?
Church? Gaming? Pornography? Sports? Music? Movies?
If the wiring of brains depends on the culture in which that brain finds itself – depends on the external inputs – then what are we doing to help or hurt our kids as they navigate this messy world? As Christian parents and youth workers, will we encourage and attempt to create healthy boundaries in regards to internet use, video game use, and types of games played, or will we simply continue to ignore the science and take our chances? After all, “Boys will be boys.”