The Kids Are All Wired
Our peek over the shoulders and into the minds of the multitasking generation connected with e-mailing, IMing, Web-surfing youth who defended their do-it-all-at-once lifestyle as the new norm. But some readers cautioned that kids need to unplug once in a while to preserve their humanity
TIME's report on my generation's multitasking [March 27] hit the nail on the head. I can get so absorbed in Facebook, e-mail, TV and iTunes that when I'm home from college, I forget I have a family downstairs. By the way, I turned off my TV and shut down my computer in the middle of reading your article, and I will be mailing it home for the rest of my family to read.
ANDREW MCCORMACK Woodbridge, Va.
It's always a little funny to read what adults are saying about us kids. I'm a 17-year-old who does not own an iPod, has been on MySpace.com only once and has to be reminded by my mother to bring my cell phone anywhere. Who IMs their friends before school to ask what they're wearing? Maybe my friends and I are way behind the times, but we prefer to hit the snooze button in the morning and handle technology after 3 p.m. Then again, I realized I was reading your article while waiting for my e-mail to load, downloading homework assignments and renewing my library books online. At least I read the whole article.
MICHELLE QUACH Anaheim, Calif.
Your story was right on target. While reading it I was listening to music on my computer, checking my e-mail, befriending people on Facebook and trying to decide how long it would take me to get to my next class--all with complete comprehension of what I was reading. Our generation's ability to multitask should be looked upon as a gift, not a weakness that inhibits achievement.
MATT REDMON College Station, Texas
My children are as adept as the rest of their cohort at multitasking, and they persuaded me, reluctantly, to IM them while they were away at college. But even among this wired generation there are dissenters who actively crave unplugged quiet time. Our daughter left her cell phone at home when she went to college, hasn't had one for the past two years and has no interest in having an iPod. Her favorite version of multitasking? Knitting while reading a 19th century novel.
MERRI ROSENBERG Ardsley, N.Y.
I have an Ipod and a Myspace account, I chat online, and I can play online games for two hours without realizing it. But my mother and I have a very good relationship because, when she comes to talk to me, I disconnect myself and listen. When she comes home, I leave my room to hug her and say hello. And I am grateful that my mom sets rules and curfews and disciplines me the way she does. Parents may hate it when they have to discipline their children, but rules really do help in the long run. Parents need to act more like parents and not buddy up so much to their kids. Sometimes it is good to be a crazy old fogy.
RACHEL POINTER Tempe, Ariz.
Your article on multitasking teenagers was fascinating. Although I sometimes sit down and just read for several hours, I find that I write better papers and do better work when I am juggling several things at once. I think being a teenager is about finding whatever works for you. It's not about setting guidelines and limits but finding the balance that enables you to blossom.