A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, the first in a series of annual entertainment surveys, finds that a large majority of the 12- to 24-year-olds surveyed are bored with their entertainment choices some or most of the time, and a substantial minority think that even in a kajillion-channel universe, they don't have nearly enough options. "I feel bored like all the time, 'cause there is like nothing to do," said Shannon Carlson, 13, of Warren, Ohio, a respondent who has an array of gadgets, equipment and entertainment options at her disposal but can't ward off ennui.The article goes on to discuss how multi-tasking as well as boredom defines the lives of teenagers. What I found interesting, though, was the age-old human desire for relationship as revealed by the survey respondents. Despite state-of-the-art marketing campaigns that duke it out for teen dollars, the Times reported that "good old-fashioned word of mouth — with a tech twist, thanks to text messaging — continues to be one of the most important factors influencing the choices that young people make." And when respondents were offered a "desert island" choice of one item, the majority picked computers or cellphones -- the technologies that connect us to one another.
No wonder our teens are bored stiff. Despite their race to acquire the next hot-ticket electronic item, what they're really longing for is connection, intimacy, community, relationship. If you offered "collapse on comfy bean bag chairs with a cross-generational group of interesting and loving people, bantering and laughing the summer nights away as the crickets chirp in the background" as an entertainment choice, a typical North American teen might think you were nuts. But that might be exactly what they need to cure their ennui.
So, as we slow things down this summer to spend time with our teens and de-plug and de-screen as a family, to misquote an old Rolling Stones song, "they can't always get what they want, but if we try sometime, they might find, they'll get what they need."