Plato Would Have Wanted You to Unplug

Technology Addiction, Technophobia, and Kids These Days

art by Mali Skotheim

I’m in my mid-thirties, which means my social media feed is full of pictures of tonight’s dinner, links to obituaries for 80’s celebrities, and angst-filled articles about how kids these days are terrible because they are addicted to screens, sugar, and apathy. Leaving aside defunct celebrities and the culinary habits of middle-aged middle class America, these “save the children/the children are terrible!” articles resonate with classical antiquity both intentionally and ironically.

In the first place, they all take as their first principle the idea that things are terrible now and were better then. This nostalgia obtains, regardless of the debate: New Math beats Common Core, The Oregon Trail beats Minecraft, sugar beats HFCS, paper beats screen (and rock). In this sense all of the anxiety about the current generation(s) of kids is only one manifestation of the general attitude that the past was better and today’s kids suck. It’s no surprise that Classics-based curricula, in both private and homeschool settings, are experiencing a renaissance.

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