According to leading marketing information provider, The NPD Group Inc, retail sales of video games, which includes portable and console hardware, software and accessories, generated revenues of close to $12.5 billion in 2006. That exceeds the previous record of $10.5 billion set in 2005. Add to that number very robust sales in music downloads; DVD's; MP3 players; multi-use cell phones; GPS Systems; and every other gadget that can distract our youth from their studies and you have the making of "Distraction Overload." That's without even considering the time our youth spend on Internet sites like You Tube, My Space, Face Book, or Second Life; or the hours they spend daily talking or text messaging with their friends or watching plain old TV. It makes one wonder how they have any time to think about their studies or their future careers.
The Internet as well as the sports and entertainment industry is growing robustly to amuse everyone at every age. What troubles me is how our students will be able to compete for jobs in the future with the youth from countries around the world that are not exposed to the same multitude of distractions. Everyone has the same twenty four hours a day available to them. How much distraction is too much?
I'm always reading about how focused the youth are from India and China. It appears that their parents as well as the students in the far east value their studies and training for future careers with the same intensity that an Olympian trains and prepares for their dream of winning a gold metal. From an early age, they seem to be going the extra mile regarding career training with the hope of a much better lifestyle than the average worker in their country. Being multi-lingual is common place and speaking English seems very high on their priority lists. Their passion to succeed in the globally connected world of the future can play havoc on the prospects of the youth of America if we all don't wake up soon. In many fields, students from around the world will be competing for the same jobs and the jobs will be rewarded to the most qualified applicants who provide the most value for the compensation paid.
There's no easy fix to limiting the distractions that our youth are exposed to. Especially if their parents, siblings and friends are just as distracted as they are. What we need to do is recognize the reality before us and talk about it as often as possible. We hire so many professionals such as doctors; engineers and computer programmers from overseas in America because we can't seem to fill the jobs we need with American born and educated candidates. If immigrants take all the low paying jobs available; then slowly take all the higher paying professional jobs, what will be left?
There are only a limited number of superstar job slots in fields such as sports; entertainment; finance; etc. Athletes who make it to the NFL or Major League Baseball know what it's like to be passionate about their sport and train hard to reach the top. Entertainers like Tom Hanks or Barbara Streisand know what it's like to pay the price to reach superstar status. And the staff at Goldman Sachs or PricewaterhouseCoopers consists of the best and brightest or the most connected individuals respectively. And every top American student will do anything to work for companies like Google or Microsoft. Yet both of these companies cry for more Visas', in order to hire overseas talent.
It's time for parents, teachers and students in America to recognize that education and training for careers must take priority over the many distractions available to our youth. Everyone needs to realize the urgency to compete effectively in the global marketplace and how important it is for kids as well as parents to prepare and train for the best jobs. Parents and teachers also need to lead the way of setting a better example for our youth by investing more time reading and studying and growing their own skills to become the best in their own fields. Perhaps and only perhaps, our youth will look up to their role models and attempt to emulate them more by investing more time in their studies and their career goals.
Lastly, it would be wonderful if fewer dollars were spent on distractions for our youth. This will be as popular as giving kids cod liver oil. I do believe that most conscientious parents already spend a great portion of their resources towards educating their kids. However studying after school, and focusing on whatever it takes to be the best gives the youth of foreign countries their edge. Developing a thirst for knowledge and skills is a gift for any human being. Enjoying learning and finding satisfaction in the efforts you put forth toward striving to be the best you can be is the recipe kids need to put down their video game and pick up their books. Set a goal for yourself and your kids to begin avoiding distraction overload today. Help our kids to pursue a brighter future by better preparing them to compete in the global marketplace with the best from other countries around the world. The most qualified will be the holders of the best jobs in the marketplace.