This is a tough question to answer and I honestly don't think there is one. "Who" are they? Well THEY don't even know who they are so how can we answer it for them?
What I do know is that youth today are spoiled even if they don't think they are. I'll be honest; my generation was pretty spoiled too. (Please refer to the video I posted a few posts below from a Conan O'brian show to see what I mean)
Teenagers think the world revolves around them; and why not, they are the future aren't they?
They are "Digital Natives" (Gasser, Palfrey). They expect that things should happen immediately, like text messaging, instant dinners that you just add to a skillet and stir, e-mail replies etc. They are no longer patient or satisfied. Is technology to blame? I say yes. I also blame it on what McPherson says is "an increasing commercialization of digital media aimed at youth" (12).
Teenagers are Media Magnets…they want to be Cool and in order to be cool they have to have the latest things... parents these days don't have time to spend with their children because they are working so much (unlike in the 'olden days' when mothers would often stay at home and only the fathers would work), and so they want to make their kids happy. And how do they do this? By buying them things! Especially EXPENSIVE things like the latest phone, blackberry or lap top. Because of this, young adults in today's society don't want to work. And why should they if their parents are buying them whatever they want? Also, Children have more time to spend with their friends or on their computers because they are not filling up their time with an after-school job.
Also, kids today are subjected to so many different things through television and internet that parents can't possibly be able to keep up. Youth may be subjected to difficult issues like rape or drug use and parents are too busy or too naive to know that these subjects are affecting their children. Parents always say things like "oh my daughter is too young for sex" when in reality 12 year olds are sexually active!
Teenagers today control their own lives more than their parents do. They are technologically spoiled (with access to televisions, computers at school if not at home, phones) and unsatisfied. They are ungrateful and bitter. I would argue that teenagers today learn more from their friends then their parents. I would even argue they respect them a lot more, where as in the 1950s children usually highly respected their parents.
However I agree with Gasser and Palfrey, " Just because Digital Natives don't learn things in the same way that their grandparents did does not mean that the way that they are learning s is not as effective" (241). What we as teachers should be focused on, is the concern that they are not learning HOW to use these technologies, about those "who are not learning these sophisticated information-gathering and information-processing skills, or creating things of their own based know that they learn and sharing it with others" (Gasser, Palfrey, 241) . I think that is what is important; teaching kids how to interpret and create these texts.
Brownie Points Text References:
"systems analysis, probability theory, pattern recognition , and -- amazingly enough-- old fashioned patience became indispensable tools for anyne trying to make sense of modern pop culture." (Johnson, 9)
"...the culture is getting more intellectually demanding, not less" (Johnson, 9).
Both Quotes exemplify how young adult culture requires a different kind of young adult literacy and is more intellectually demanding (in a way that is different from past understandings). Proven here:
"...new forms of online communications that cultivate audience commentary about works of pop culture; changes in the economics of he culture industry that encourage repeat viewing; and deep-seated appetites in the human brain hat seek out reward and intellectual challenge" (Johnson, 11).