Kids Then and Now

By: Naya Fauzia Dzikrina

Of recent months, the phrase ‘kids jaman now’ has been one of the most (unfortunately) viral hashtags in the Indonesian internet universe. The phrase is commonly used by ‘older people’ to comment on children’s behaviour nowadays that are considered astonishing, weird, or even inappropriate. The phrase carries a negative connotation which implies that children today are growing up too fast and are basically doomed for not being ‘children’ anymore. The behaviours commented usually involve things such as children saying inappropriately adult things, swearing, dating, and mostly too much use of gadgets.

Although this phenomenon is troubling to some extent, let us take a moment to reflect on why is it that we (the ‘older’ generation) feel so compelled to comment and bring down these younger kids? Especially when we ourselves remember how annoying it was for us when our parents would give us the ‘back in my day’ talk. How do we gain satisfaction from scorning at children who (whatever it is they are doing) clearly do not know any better? And further still, let us really reflect on why it is the children are behaving the way they do.

A long enough reflection will lead us to the uncomfortable conclusion that we are really the ones to blame. Us laughing at children behaving like ‘kids jaman now’ is really us laughing at our incompetence of properly educating the younger generation. Children are observant; they are like sponges. Whatever they express must be a result of whatever they have witnessed or learned. It is our responsibility to make sure that they learn the right things, the right way.

Project Child Indonesia (PCI) works with and for children. Through fieldwork conducted in the three programs of PCI (Sekolah Sungai, Drinking Water Program, and Internet Literacy Program), we have talked to children from various parts of the city. Naturally, the children we encountered differ widely. But, through all of them, something was clear: they were all children, and they all possessed the same basic things that children across cultures or generations share: excitement, curiosity, and a naturally good heart. Project Child believes that no matter the condition or generation, each child is good and can be educated to be better.

The fact is, children of today grow up in the same manner we did. Like all children, they have instinctively learned how to utilize and mimic things around them, both good and bad. Since we are the older and (supposedly) wiser, we must take a more active part in assisting those younger than us to face challenges today in a positive and responsible way; be it facing technology, taking care of the environment, or simply figuring out how to best use their free time. Even though each program of PCI has its own focus, bringing the best out of children is the general goal that PCI works to achieve.

Times have changed and it is unrealistic to demand the children of today to grow up the same way we did. But what we can all do is change our way of viewing this issue, and not blame the children for being what they are. It is up to us to start giving positive examples.