education for teens

These Kids Aren’t Spoiled: They’re Changing the World

Written on April 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm , by

I think it’s debatable whether todays’ kids are spoiled, overprotected, distracted, game-addicted or less polite than previous generations. That has not been my personal experience with the kids I know. And since the big, splashy, star-studded stage event We Day is currently touring the world, launching a year of social activism for youth called We Act, I happen to have some statistics at hand that I like—and that seem more in keeping with my experience—about today’s kids:

Through their involvement in We Act, over 2 million youngsters have gotten behind local and global causes, volunteered their time, raised money, attended camps to learn how to lead other youth to change the world, and used social media—another often-denigrated modern development—to raise awareness for causes they care about.

These kids have:

• raised $37 million for more than 1,000 local and global causes
• volunteered 9.6 million hours for local and global causes
• collected 4 million pounds of food for local food banks
• logged 7.5 million hours of silence to stand up for children in developing communities who are silenced by poverty and exploitation

It starts with the We Day event, which gets kids pumped up with the message that everyone—no matter how young—can make a difference simply by believing in a cause and doing something about it. Then the site provides schools and families with the resources they need to actually get involved in whatever social change they want to make happen. So maybe, instead of lamenting our kids’ failures (and our own parental mistakes that led there), why not watch the video (above) with them and see what happens?

If kids still doubt they can effect change, point out that We Day and We Act are part of Free the Children, which was founded in 1995 by Craig and Marc Kielburger when Craig was 12 years old. Craig rallied a handful of classmates to rescue children from child labor, and discovered that he could make a difference even though he was himself just a kid. Since then, Craig has become a social entrepreneur, a New York Times bestselling author and a syndicated columnist, and founded a youth organization that has taught 2.3 million young people that they can change the world for the better.

I’m sure there are some spoiled, overprotected kids out there. But they can change. And I can’t get behind this idea that today’s youth aren’t doing anything worthy. They seem like an impressive bunch to me.

Christina Tynan-Wood has been covering technology since the dawn of the Internet and currently writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle. You can find more advice about buying and using technology at

What My Teen Learns from YouTube

Written on May 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm , by

Me: “Are you wasting time on YouTube?”

My teenage son: “No.”

I go look at the computer screen. Sure enough. He’s watching YouTube, not writing the paper that’s due in 18 hours. I give him a disapproving look.

“It’s not a waste of time,” he informs me. “I learn a lot on YouTube.”

This is actually a conversation we had quite a while ago. I long ago admitted that I was wrong. Not entirely. He should have been writing his paper, of course. But I was wrong to assume that he was wasting time because he was on YouTube. He does waste a lot of time, by my working adult standards anyway, watching silly jokes and anything that will make him laugh there. But he also learns a lot.

After engaging in more than one discussion with him where he clearly knew a lot more than I did – and I read the news every day — about current events, I asked him to show me his sources. Some of it was a bit raw – cussing and whatnot – to share here. But some of it was outstanding, youthful, edgy, current, and highly informative.

YouTube partners with some outstanding educational sources for educational content, including StanfordHarvardPBSTED, and the Khan Academy. So these days I’m more likely to suggest a YouTube video to my kids than to ban the site. I figure if I send them to content that’s funny, entertaining, and educational at least that’s time they are not spending giggling as they watch a cat fly out the window. (Though there is nothing wrong with feline-antic induced hilarity in reasonable quantities.)

Check out the video I included here. Or for an ever-changing daily menu of funny, fascinating, often beautiful and always educational videos just check in at YouTube EDU.

Christina Tynan-Wood writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle, and is the author of “How to Be a Geek Goddess.” You can find her at, as well as here on