In This Version
- Time Crunch – Threat to Individuals, Community, Health and the Environment
- Our Children – The Federal Overview
- Mindset of Today’s Current 18 Year Olds
- Kids – Keep Making the News
Lack of Time and Its Threat to Well-being
Many people complain about not having enough time and cite the activities and responsibilities that get shortchanged because of this time. There appears to be ever-growing interest in addressing this issue outside of the mere concerns of individuals. In October of 2003, the first “Take Back Your Time Day” was held on the 24th in over 200 communities in the United States and Canada. The second “Take Back Your Time Day” in 2004 found a number of labor unions, churches, and family organizations lending their support to this initiative.
The third “Take Back Your Time Day” is once again scheduled for October 24 this year.
“ Take Back Your Time Day” is a project of the Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy (CRESP) at Cornell University and is an initiative of the Simplicity Forum, a leadership alliance for the Simplicity Movement -- Promoting and Honoring Simple, Just, and Sustainable Way of Life for All.
This is NOT an anti-work group, but rather an initiative based upon the Earth Day model. You may recall that Earth Day raised (and continues to raise) awareness about issues hoping to influence individual behavior and public policy.
Our current working patterns and practices in the 21st century continually consume more of people’s waking hours thus eroding quality of life for the worker, his or her health, family, and community.
State of Today’s Working Patterns
- Americans are working longer hours now than we did in the 1950s
- Current working conditions have us toiling longer than medieval peasants did
- Americans actually work longer hours than the employees in the other industrial countries
- Americans, on average, work nearly nine full weeks (350 hours) LONGER per year than most Western Europeans do.
- Most working Americans average slightly over two weeks of vacation time annually
- Some American workers get no paid vacation at all; 37% of working women making under $40,000 do not receive a paid vacation
- Europeans average five to six weeks of vacation each year
- In many situations, overtime is becoming mandatory and is at near record levels, in spite of a recession.
So What Difference Does It Make?
America has long been regarded as the center of free enterprise and fulfillment of the American dream. There are Americans in all walks of life who feel as if they are on a treadmill running as fast as they can and getting nowhere. We have become a nation of overworked, overscheduled, overstressed, and overwhelmed people.
But what difference does that make? PLENTY! We are paying a high price as individuals, communities and society for this work pace. For instance…time stress can…
- lead to fatigue, accidents and injuries
- reduce time for physical activity
- support our consumption of high-fat, high sugar fast foods
- contribute to job stress and burnout costing the economy of the United States over $300 billion each year
- result in less time (and more guilt) with less hours to care for children and older parents
- reduce sense of community because we have less time to get to know and hang out with the neighbors
- mean fewer hours for volunteering in our community
- leave us with less time to be active, knowledgeable, and involved with our community and the decision-making power of voters
- reduce employment levels because fewer people work longer hours eliminating the need for additional full-time positions
- leaves little of no time for individuals self-development or spiritual growth
- in its own way contribute to further destruction of the environment as lack of time leads to use of convenient, throwaway products, and reduces recycling.
Additional Info about this “Take Back Your Time Day”
The main goal of this day and the events held in recognition of this day is to raise awareness of the price we are paying by working longer and living with a reduced quality of life. Campaign materials and messages as well as graphics for posters or flyers can be downloaded from the following site: www.simpleliving.net/timeday/campaign-materials.asp There are a variety of different “playful” and leisurely ideas and events available by checking out this web site.
The Mindset of 18 Year Olds
On the Today Show, Matt Lauer mentioned a guest’s new album and was asked didn’t he mean CD and he just shrugged off the mild rebuke and reiterated that to him it would always be an album. It is those often subtle differences between various cohort groups of Americans that cause or create some interesting challenges in communication and connecting.
In an attempt to counteract some of that generational confusion, a professor and public relations director, Tom McBride, the Keefer Professor of the Humanities and Ron Nief, Director of Public Affairs from Beloit College in Wisconsin create each year an incoming freshmen mindset list. The purpose of the list is to familiarize adults with the mindsets of those new 18 year old minds. The world of people born in 1987 differs from Matt Lauer’s era and the mindset of many of us.
Some of those reminders include…
- ”cut and paste” isn’t something they recall requiring scissors
- Pay per View TV has always been an option
- They were never tossed into the back of a station wage with six other siblings in the pursuit of family fun
- They may know who Greg Gumbel is but not Bryant Gumbel
- Voice mail has always been there
- Michael Jackson has always been bad, and greed has always been good
- ” Whatever” has always been an expression of contempt rather than a question
- Snowboarding (and skateboarding) have always been a popular pastime.
- Black Americans have always been known as African-Americans
- Airports have always had upscale shops and restaurants
- Digital cameras have always existed.
- Tom Landry never coached the Dallas Cowboys and Wayne Gretzky never played hockey for Edmonton
- they have always been challenged to distinguish between news and entertainment on cable TV
- Jimmy Carter has always been an elder statesman
- they don’t recall a “kinder, gentler nation”
- Bill Gates has always been a billionaire and Lyme Disease has always been a disease
- and of course, Starbucks has always been right around the corner
(Source: Beloit College Mindset List 2005)
Big Picture of Children in America
America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2005 is a biennial report created by the federal government that provides an overview on the condition of children in America. Highlights over-viewing information related to demographics, economics, health, behavior, and education include the following:
Population and Family Characteristics
- In 2003, 25% of the American population was children ages 0 -17; a decrease from the baby boom peak of 36% in 1964
- By 2020, children are projected to make up 24% of the total population
- In 2003, 60% of American children were White only, non-Hispanic; 16% Black only; and 4% Asian only
- The number of Hispanic children has increased faster than any other group; they were 9% of the youth population in 1980 and rose to 19% of the youth population in 2003.
- In 2004, 68% of children ages 0–17 lived with two married parents; down from 77 percent in 1980
- The increase in childbearing among unmarried women came to an end in 1994
Economic Security Indicators
- In 2003, 18% of all children ages 0–17 lived in poverty,
- The official rate of children living in families below the poverty line changes over time; it reached a high of 22 percent in 1993 and decreased to a low of 16 percent in 2000.
- In 2003, 89 percent of children had health insurance coverage at some point during the year; the proportion of children covered by private health insurance has dropped since 2000, reversing the upward trend from 1994–1999.
- 16% of children ages 6–18 were overweight as of 1999-2002; an increase from 6 percent in 1976–1980
- In 1999–2002, Black, non-Hispanic girls and Mexican American boys were at particularly high risk of being overweight
- The infant mortality rate increased in 2002 for the first time in decades; it continues to remain near its record low
- Racial and ethnic disparities continue; the Black, non-Hispanic infant mortality rate is consistently higher than that of other racial or ethnic groups.
- Child mortality dropped by approximately half between 1980 and 2002
- Deaths from firearm injuries among adolescents declined between 1995 and 2002, particularly among
Black and Hispanic males.
- The birth rate for adolescents continued to decline in 2003 to 22 births per 1,000 females ages 15–17, representing the lowest rate ever recorded.
- The decrease in adolescent births cuts across racial and ethnics groups; birth rate among Black, non-Hispanic females ages 15–17 dropped by more than half between 1991 and 2003 reversing the increase from 1986 to 1991.
- Household status influences the health of adolescence. According to pooled data from 1996 and 2001, 86% of adolescents ages 15–17 who lived with their married, biological parents, were reported to be in excellent or very good health; this is compared with 80% of adolescents living with a married stepparent, 76% living with a single parent, and 67% living with neither parent.
Behavior and Social Environment Indicators
- Following several years of gradual decreases, the rate of daily smoking remained stable between 2003 and 2004
- The percentage of students who reported having five or more drinks in a row in the past 2 weeks was stable from 2003 to 2004 at 11 percent among 8thgraders, 22 percent among 10th-graders, and 29 percent among 12th-graders.
- Between 2003 and 2004, illicit drug use (in the past 30 days) significantly declined from 10 percent to 8 percent among 8th-graders.
- Serious violent crime involving juvenile victims and offenders increased in 200;. rates still generally lower than their peaks in 1993
- In 2003, 5 % of children ages 4–17 were reported by a parent to have definite or severe difficulties with emotions, concentration, behavior, or being able to get along with other people; 65% of these parents reported contacting a mental health professional or general doctor and/or that the child received special education for these difficulties.
- The average mathematics scale score of 4th- and 8th-graders was higher in 2003 than since the assessments began in 1990.
- There was no measurable difference in reading scores in 2003 assessments
- Household status influences school enrollment among adolescents. Pooled data from 1996 and 2001 indicated that 97% of adolescents ages 15–17 who lived with their married, biological parents were enrolled in school; this is compared with 94% for that age group who live with a single parent and 80% for those who lived with neither parent.
- More Black, non-Hispanic youth moved from being “not enrolled in school and not working” into the category of “enrolled in school and not working” in 2004
- Bachelor degrees among people ages 25-29 in 2003 found that 32% of White, non-Hispanic persons earned at least a bachelor’s degree (32 percent); that graduation rate was 18% for Black, non-Hispanic and 12% for Hispanics
- These percentages of college graduation rates increased 12% for Blacks since 1980 and 8% for Hispanics.
(Source of Data: http://childstats.gov/americaschildren/)
Repeated Focus Upon The Heavily Scheduled Child and the Future
The last few months, perhaps due to it being the “summer, out of school” season, have provided a number of articles about children and how they currently spend their time. Naturally, there are concerns about the couch/mouse potato syndrome and its relationship to obesity and other articles about the role and influence of technology in their lives. However, one topic that has popped up in a number of places related to the over-scheduled child and the impact the non-stop race from activity to lessons to teams has upon the growth and development of today’s children.
A combination of growing up in the school testing era and the structured era elicited a warning and prophecy from the Herman Trend Alert. The Herman Group is a firm of strategic business futurists that focus upon the workplace and forecast trends and advise clients regarding those trends. They also have a weekly email newsletter with a free subscription.
A recent focus area raising concerns regarded the growth and development of today’s school children. Naturally, they will make up the next group to enter the work world. The Herman Group raises the following points:
- many of today’s children are being raised to be independent and to
- they lead heavily scheduled lives
- this is an over-measured generation with schools focusing more upon testing and its preparation than learning
- there is decreased emphasis upon learning for understanding or the pursuit of knowledge
- they spend growing number of hours in front of the computer screen
- they interact with others indirectly instead of face-to-face, i.e. IM, email, computer games, etc.
- their day includes little time for creativity and play just for the fun of it
The concerns for the future of the work force highlighted by the Herman Group include:
- the work world they enter will demand skills quite different from their preparation and childhood pursuits
- there will be greater emphasis upon creativity, communication, and collaboration as required skills of employment
- success will include working in teams
- the conceptual era in which we reside requires thinking on the part of employees
- workers who are open to new ideas, challenge the status quo, ask challenging questions, and are not satisfied with doing things the old way just for the sake of tradition will be highly desirable
The overall caution from this Group is that “Regimented educational processes and over-scheduled lives do not prepare young people for tomorrow’s work environment.”
(Herman Trend Alert: Call the Next Generation “Independents?” April 20, 2005)
TIPS – Trends into Practice
" We must constantly be recasting our direction."
— Mark Albion, Founder, You and Co.
It is difficult to find the time in our work lives or develop the interest in the continual recasting of our direction as encouraged by Mark Albion. However, two TIPS that would go a long ways towards meeting that challenge include:
- Deciding to celebrate “Take Back Your Time Day” even in a small way. Check out their web site because they’ve made information and graphics easily available for everyone to use. We are proponents of quality of life for individuals, families, and communities and this time famine shows few signs of letting up. Recast our direction so we become a supporter of the need for time for people.
- Consider becoming a provider of “non-structured, supervised play” for children. It is obvious that children require supervision in the non-school hours due to working parents and heightened security concerns. But it may be time to ask ourselves if we are part of the problem (by providing a myriad of different activities and options for children) or part of the solution. The solution and the future is about recasting our direction and role so we provide children with the avenues for creativity, problem-solving, and learning through non-structured play.
trendSCAN is created by CPRS by Leisure Lifestyle Consulting of Sarasota, FL. Comments and questions can be directed to Dr. Ellen O’Sullivan at
. Please feel free to share interesting trend information with her as well.