5 Highly Overrated Skills Your Successful Child Can Do Without
The ways in which we communicate and express ourselves are rapidly changing. We spend more time than ever in front of computers and other Net-connected devices. As parents who dimly remember a time before the Internet ever existed, keeping pace with these changes is futile. It is our responsibility, however, to prepare our children so that they can thrive in our brave new 21st century world.
Have no fear, dear parent. SmartBean has compiled a list of outdated, obsolete skills that your child no longer needs in order to succeed in the rat race of the new millennium. [editor's note: this article is an attempt at humor; please don't take it seriously]
There is a fire hose of external stimuli vying for your child’s attention. Luckily, much of this input has been over-simplified and packaged into consumable bite-sized portions. Commercials, music videos, Twitter – all of these are sent directly into the brain and require no cognitive processing. Past studies have linked excessive television viewing to ADHD. A renowned fictitious doctor who asked for anonymity argues that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “TV and life in general throws a lot at you. You have to be nimble. Attention span just gets in the way as children attempt to hold a thought for more than a second or two.”
A recent article on MSNBC noted that schools no longer place emphasis on cursive handwriting and as a result, it is a fading skill. We’re not shedding a tear at SmartBean. In fact, we recommend if possible you avoid teaching children handwriting altogether. There are far more effective and environment-friendly (save the trees!) ways of communication. Typing, for example, teaches important fine motor skills.
A study published in the Journal of Bioelectromagnetics found that texting can actually help your kids be more impulsive. “The kids who used their phones a lot were faster on some of the tests, but were less accurate… Their brains are still developing so if there are effects then potentially it could have effects down the line, especially given that the exposure is now almost universal. The use of mobile phones is changing the way children learn and pushing them to become more impulsive in the way they behave.”
Impulsivity can lead favorably to a shorter attention span (see above) and faster decision making, both vital skills today.
After handwriting, the next skill to which we happily bid adieu is grammar. [editor's note: ppl talk lyk that? Roflcopter!] In the so-called Grammar Wars teachers have long debated whether grammar should be taught in the classrooms, and SmartBean takes the question one logical step further: to what extent should grammar be used at all? The efficient, rapid fire communication favored today leaves no patience for old fashioned notions of complete sentences, punctuation, and correctly spelled words.
To be sure, proper grammar has a certain antiquated elegance, but it adds complexity and volume, both of which hinder absorption of information by attention-challenged children. As communication methods have evolved, grammar must devolve. Abbreviations, acronyms, word and punctuation omission, cute and inadvertent misspellings – all serve to streamline your child’s information digestion. Texting and Twitter have been instrumental in speeding along this encouraging transformation of language semantics. Communication is laser focused, with no room for fluffy, self-indulgent grammar. Seriously, how many well-formed sentences can you fit in 140 characters?
Ken Smith, Professor of Chavology at the University of Runcorn, has recently proposed that the English language be adjusted to include mobile phone text language and incorrect spelling (as illustrated by a witty Hamlet example – “2b? nt2b? = ???”).
Independent thinking has long been encouraged as a means for children to gain confidence and to make smart and responsible decisions. This logic is inherently flawed in today’s modern world, says a conveniently fabricated and completely erroneous study. The study argues that independent thinking had some moderate value before the Internet, when lack of information (ignorance) forced individuals to make decisions and have opinions of their own, often with dangerous consequences. Children sometimes ignored their peers’ well-meaning advice and carried the weight of their transgressions as emotional baggage into adulthood.
Today, however, children can use Google, Twitter, Facebook and a myriad of other readily available online resources as a safer, crowd-sourced alternative to independent thought. The study concluded by citing a press release from Google claiming that “everything” had in scientific fact “been done and was duly indexed.” SmartBean’s takeaway from all of this? Less thought leads to reduced stress and healthier, happier kids.
[editor's note: We weren't initially sure what to think of independent thinking, but a quick Google search helped us form an opinion]
Let’s face it. Face-to-face interaction is complicated. Children must learn to interpret and navigate complex social interactions, investing their time and emotional currency in making and maintaining personal bonds. SmartBean asks parents to discourage direct human contact in favor of Internet-driven relationships, and has compiled the following helpful reference table:
|Danger zone (Face-to-face)||Healthy distance (Internet)|
|Cleanliness||Germ swapping poses a constant threat. Kudos to the NBA for recently passing their anti-handshake directive to slow the spread of H1N1, but you can do one better by not allowing your children to come into contact with other people at all. If you must hug your kids, try to avoid skin-to-skin contact.||Proper use of anti-virus software will protect against bugs|
|Personal Identity||Social hazing leads to feelings of inadequacy; children stuck in a single body||Social acceptance guaranteed through prolific use of disposable “avatars” to showcase multiple personality aspects|
|Emotional Impact||Burdened by the social shackles of politeness and personal accountability; deep personal bonds often lead to feeling of guilt, anger, and frustration||Lightweight modes of communication encourage freedom of expression (”i pwned u. u suck!”) and prevent lasting and painful emotional connections from forming. Emoticons smooth nuances out of conversations for easier interpretation.|
|Efficiency||Can only interact with a few people at once and must be physically present||Can reach a theoretically infinite number of “friends” any time, anywhere. Conversations and embarrassing videos are conveniently stored for later consumption.|
|Environmental Impact||Transporting kids to/from school and friends’ houses harms the environment||Electronic devices are getting smaller all the time, so the environmental impact of disposal surely cannot be all that high|