When do people—especially teenagers—take time to contemplate the deeper issues of life—such as origin, meaning, morality, and destiny?
Studies show they don’t. In fact, biologically, many can’t! Why is that? We will discuss this problem today and how you can turn the tide in your home.
Understanding the Need for Boundaries
You read correctly. Today’s teens may not be biologically able to think constructively on the deeper issues of life. The reason; anhedonia.
Anhedonia is a grossly overlooked component to what is filling up programs like Shepherd’s Hill Academy with troubled teens.
In his book Thrilled to Death Dr. Archibald Hart claims 80% of the American public suffers with anhedonia from one degree or the other. I would say, in the teenage population, unless one is Amish, it is virtually one hundred percent! It’s just a matter of degree. Though I speak about anhedonia extensively, below is a brief snapshot of how our culture has become anhedonic.
Then: Technology at the Speed of Sound
At the turn of the 20th century when technology was moving at the speed of sound; the automobile, telephone, and the radio were just of few of the many technological advances that forced parents to deal with new scenarios not faced by previous generations.
It took decades for their posterity to realize all the precautions needed to engage these new inventions safely.
How many people had to be injured and killed in automobiles before we realized brakes, turn signals, headlights, horns, seat belts, etc., were a good idea?
Now: Technology at the Speed of Light
Today, technology is now moving at the speed of light. We have yet to fully understand all of the negative effects to the critical, constructive, and creative thinking capacities of the brain caused by the abuse of technology—much less prevent them.
But, we do know this damage is real.
Atrophy takes place in these areas of the brain that push-button technology is largely responsible for. This is not to mention its effect on the areas of the human experience that cannot be measured empirically, such as; the heart, mind, emotions and spirit.
Today, kids can do the most mundane things while being indoctrinated by virtually anything through the wearing of headphones. This leaves them no time to contemplate the deeper and more important issues of life.
At the turn of the last century, teenagers weren’t plowing the back 40 to headphones. Perhaps this is why they still had enough critical, constructive, and creative gray matter to repair the farm equipment when it broke down—or perhaps invent new and better ones!
A Brief Example of the Effects of Anhedonia
To give you one small example of what is happening to our kids as a result of the push-button techno-age, just try getting your order right at McDonald’s these days!
Or, try giving the attendant paper and copper in order to get back silver. They have to call the manager!
My first job was at a McDonald’s over 35 years ago. We didn’t have little icons of hamburgers and fries on electronic key pads. We had a pencil and a note pad. And if we didn’t get the orders right and give proper change, the manager would find some other teenager that would!
How to Turn the Tide on Anhedonia
At SHA, we understand if an anhedonic, troubled teen cannot think critically, constructively, or creatively, his capacity to love and think and empathize like God drastically diminishes.
God becomes an abstract too difficult and boring for the anhedonic brain to conceive or desire.
The good news is that anhedonia is reversible–but, it doesn’t come through medications! It comes by engaging the teen in some form of critical, constructive, or creative thinking activity—preferably using his hands, feet, and back. Pulling the plug on TV and Internet access might be a start. I’ve written a list of thing you could do to regain any lost ground to anhedonia.
The good news is; once a teen’s full mental faculties are returned to him, he is much more likely to accept the logical and natural God-given truths of life—especially as they pertain to moral living and eternal destiny.
In turn, his ability to make independent choices that are congruent with healthy living becomes an outworking of his heart change.
Conversation Starter: Anhedonia is often overlooked. What are some steps you can take in turning the tide against anhedonia in your home.