“Life for children today has never been better.” This is quite a common comment made by many today, which shows the inherent truth in the statement. Today’s world is globalised and interconnected with the technological revolution at its peak and social media being more widely used. Thus, children’s lives today are indeed very different from any other time in the past as things keep improving. When we say their lives have never been better, we mean that it is at its most optimal, with the best standard of living, quality of life and welfare in general. Regarding the given statement, I agree to an overwhelming extent.
The 21st century has seen unprecedented technological booms and advancements, which give children today the best material standard of living they have ever been able to receive innovation and invention are rapidly increasing which enhances the variety of consumer options available for the young ones today. By this we mean that with the emergence of amazing production technologies like automation, robots like “Baxter” invented in the USA are capable of producing component parts for toys at four times as fast as human’s speed.This has led to many toy firms increasing their production volume of popular toys, giving children much more choice. Innovative technologies on the other hand enhance new toys in ways past generations could only dream of, improving the quality of toys. In the end, we are unable to deny that where material goods are involved, children have never been so spoilt for choice and pampered as they are now.
In today’s world, children are leading better lives with more resources devoted to their upbringing. This is in light of the worryingly low and declining birth rates many developed nations face. Due to this pattern, governments have been devoting more time, effort and resources to encourage childbirth and the rearing of children. As such in South Korea, the government heavily subsidised childcare costs. Such efforts only go to show the extent that the governments are willing to go to increase the importance of having children in our daily lives. We can only comment that children of the 21st century are treated as national treasures and assets to an ageing population. Thus it is true that they enjoy more resources and facilities provided complimentary to them.
In addition to the above, the declining birth rates so characteristic of today has created the phenomenon of nuclear families, consisting of a couple and not more than 2 children. As such children end up having a better quality and standard of living when parents are able to allocate more resources to each child. During the days of large families, each child could only have a small share of the parents’ income spent on them and their needs. However in China, for one, the “Little Emperor” syndrome has emerged due to parents having one child and being able to devote more of their resources to his prodigal spending habits.This goes to show that as nuclear families are the norm today, children are able to receive much more attention and material goods as more is allocated to them. With virtually all their material wants satisfied and their emotional well-being receiving more attention, we have to say things have never been at a better stage for children today.
Perhaps the rapid and unbelievable developments in the sphere of education today have also contributed to such a high standard of living for children on the whole. This is quite a constant factor as throughout the annals of time, educational events increase in number and so do educational discoveries and new knowledge. Thus, the progress of time will always have a direct relationship with the development of education. Knowing this, we can apply this fact to today’s education sector which has never before received as much thesis appears and discoveries. Thus, children in schools today mostly receive the most updated, modified and refined versions of educational content and teachings, as well as have more access to a greater number of interesting theories and discoveries made by past figures. The recent Higgs Boson discovery would never be enjoyed by children of another generation. Such an optimal quality of education is only received by children of today’s age, and this can improve their lives further by making them more knowledgeable and employable or by increasing their levels of spiritual enlightenment via the new perspectives gained. Basically, children feel more fulfilled today.
The above characteristics of the 21st century have also led to the creation of a self-perpetuating cycle where parents are more accommodating than ever and lives for children keep increasing in quality and standard. Due to the general increase in standards of living, people’s expectations also increase as they yearn for luxury goods and consumerism along with prodigal spending to satisfy their wants. As such, such a mindset has translated into a culture of upbringing where parents try their hardest to satisfy their child’s material wants, however unreasonable and demanding they may be. In Singapore and western countries like USA alike, this trend is increasingly evident as many parents vene resort to taking loans to pay for their child’s exorbitant spending habits. Albeit at the parent’s expense, the given statement holds true in the view of many children today. Gone is the traditional culture where children see accepting modest rewards as the status quo, today they are able to demand and receive almost anything they open their mouth for. Definitely, life for them has never been better.
Despite a very strong thesis for the statement by the general public and erudites of child development, there can never be a day where anomalies are not present. Thus, we will need to concede that there is another camp regarding this issue. It would be more mature and partial of us to consider some other viewpoints.
Some point out the fact that technological advancements come at a compromise in the form of social media’s negative effect on children. Amidst the increase in material well-being, children are surrounded by social media channels that showcase content from flashy advertisements to the occurrences of celebrities’ daily lives and the like. Children are bombarded by information of such overwhelming proportions and at such unsustainable rates that their young brains are unable to accurately synthesise them to form their own opinions and judgements of various issues. This inevitably leads to children facing more confusion in their daily lives today, with a particular US-based survey finding that showed that about 60% of children below 14 feel that “their lives are more confusing today”. As such, children may be losing the ability to remain clear and cognizant of their own identity and opinion, something the children of the 1970s-1980s did not mull excessively over. In the end, children have gained material satisfaction at the expense of mental and emotional well-being.
However, regarding this other view, I feel that this slight detriment to children’s lives pales in comparison to the more significant factors mentioned at the start. I say this because the modern age has a way of adapting to changes in society and the like. Like a natural defense mechanism, when a social problem occurs, there will be a group of people who work together to counter it. Amidst the increasing confusion and disorientation faced by children today, the number of childhood therapists and psychology professors as well as clinics have been increasing steadily. This gives more outlets and means for children to seek help when in need and such measures have been working in London, UK for some time. School therapists are increasing in numbers and are capable of providing improved emotional guidance to more children. Coupled with the rest of the improvements in various aspects of life, I feel that my comment to the given statement would be a resounding “yes”.
Perhaps the only significant case where we are unable to rebut effectively is the case for Less developed Countries(LDCs) mentioned by several professors and the public. The 21st century has created a widening development gap between rich and poorer nations and poorer LDCs suffer a dearth from necessary resources. In African countries like Mali and Kenya, we are unable to prove that children’s lives have really improved. When basic needs cannot be met, the poverty cycle ensues. However, today aid organisations like the United Nations(UN) have been ready to provide aid to stave off famine and disasters in these regions. Nevertheless, it is likely that aid alone will not be able to prevent Malthus’s theory from playing out if the inherent capriciousness and corruption of such dictatorship regimes are not vanquished.
My final stand would still remain the stated one at the beginning. Children who are facing the above situation are rare in number and most are not as destitute. Looking at the rest of the world and their children’s lives constantly improving in virtually all aspects of life, I would say the given statement is a testament to the inherent truth of the state of children’s lives today. I believe this would be the case for countless generations to come.
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