Teenagers will Work, Rest and Play Online
In our article on digital leisure in 2022 we looked at how the technology that often originated in the 20th Century space race, caused social changes that democratized the way we spend our leisure time in 2022 and that one ket trend is collaboration over distances via the Internet.
In this article, we are going to expand on this topic further and speculate on where things might be heading for work, rest and play.
Why do we ‘go’?
- “I am going to work today”
- “I am going to school today”
- “I am going to take a rest today”
- “I am going to see my friends”
- “I am going shopping”
- “Mum, can I go out and play?”
These are all common expressions, although maybe the idea of kids going out to play, or going out to shop, is becoming less common rather quickly. We don’t really think about what they mean but they all really boil down to one thing: In order to do something we need to do or want to do we have to leave our home to do it.
But will that still be true for today’s teenagers when they are – say – in their forties?. If you do the Math for example, a 13-year-old today will be 43 in 2050. So, what will their mid-life crisis look like?
Let’s start with work. Many people still ‘go’ to work. They leave home, then drive, take public transport, cycle (maybe these days on an electric bike) etc. to some other place where they do whatever it is that they do. If it is an office, they typically sit down at a desk to work, sit in meetings, call colleagues or customers in other offices etc. Why do they do that? Getting to work takes time, causes congestion and potentially generates pollution. If it is a long commute then maybe for 8 hours of working, 2 hours or more are lost traveling. Because work has a fixed time (9 to 5 – maybe) then everything needs to happen in an arbitrary and fixed timeframe. Urgent work might not get completed that day, or time might be wasted waiting for some other task to be completed. We need special buildings for all this to happen and they need to be heated, lit, air-conditioned etc.
Isn’t that all a bit 20th Century? Isn’t it a bit strange and inefficient and polluting? If you think about office work, home much really needs you to be physically present to make it happen. Couldn’t a lot of office work be done from home and travel to an office be an occasional thing – or maybe not need to happen at all?
If you forget offices a minute and apply that to schooling, there are good reasons for kids to physically go to schools – to learn social skills, to do practical things with their hands, to take part in physical exercise etc. But equally, it’s perfectly possible to be schooled remotely. There’s nothing new about this – take the example of the Australian outback, where distance schooling by radio has been happening for decades and has now switched to the internet. It can be done and homeschooling but with internet-taught lessons might grow considerably.
If you look at our article on digital pianos you can already see how Music can now be taught remotely with the tutor never having to meet the pupil.
For anyone thinking about climate change too, have you noticed all those cars taking kids backwards and forwards to school?
Shopping for anything other than necessities is a leisure activity for many, which is why shops spend too much money on making an enjoyable shopping experience. We already see how the expression ‘I’m going shopping’ is being used less and less as retail moves online. Today retailers suffer from the syndrome of ‘showcasing’ where consumers who do bother to go out shopping only do so to see products up close and maybe pick them up or try them out – but then they go back home and order them over the internet from a different supplier.
Some companies have made a point of adapting to this. The folks at Apple, who know a thing or two about anticipating or creating consumer trends, now create Apple Stores which aren’t really shops at all – they are showcases designed to simply make the products more appealing. Apple don’t ultimately care if you buy in the store or if you buy online – so long as you buy.
Other rest activities like going down the gym to swim might stay sacrosanct – however take note of the growth of online gym classes and online peloton cycling, all of which happen at home.
Mid 20th Century Parents used to worry about teenage kids going out to play with friends: What would they get up to? What time would they come home? Then late 20th Century Parents started to worry about teenage kids not going out and spending long hours on early PC of console games: Why can’t they go at and be sociable? Why don’t they get some fresh air and exercise? The current worry is about online team gaming, where kids sit there with their special headsets and special gloves in special gaming chairs and might be teamed up with other kids in Europe or Asia in a Battle Royale team: Who are these other kids? Why is the equipment so expensive? Will they get to bed on time?
Poor old teenagers – whatever they do, generation to generation, their parents will be worried it’s the wrong thing.
A Conclusion: Maybe
No one can predict the future and anyone who thinks they can just haven’t read up on Chaos theory, or the need to do some research on tech history.
What we can say is that so many things we still do today are behavioral legacies and hangovers from the 20th Century. We probably don’t need to work in offices, for most of the work that people do in offices. If we really want to tackle climate change, how about cutting down all that commuting to work and all the energy used to heat, light and air condition offices. Oh, and how about those flights and taxis and hotel rooms needed to attend long-distance business meetings. The excuse that the quality of Conference calls or teleconferencing is poor doesn’t cut it so much today.
In fact, have a good think about what you do now and ask yourself if “going” to do a thing might become something we did in the past and we can and will do many things from home.
We hope you found this article thought-provoking – but what do you think? Please leave your comments below.