The On Demand Generation: a severe lack of patience

It’s fair to say that children have never been known for their high levels of patience, but it seems that the On Demand Generation of children are finding it even more difficult to wait.

Like most parents, we limit the screen time that our children have. We use Microsoft Family Safety to limit the number of hours per week they can use their laptops for and we actively encourage them to play outside and watch less TV. We don’t have a games console and our eldest is allowed limited time of TV in his bedroom.

Still, both of our children suffer with a lack of patience. It’s not just restricted to our kids, either. I carry out volunteer work with young people and they’re pretty much all the same. They just can’t wait. They want everything to be instant and the idea of waiting is almost painful for them.

Why? I believe that the On Demand Generation is the result of the modern on demand lifestyle – the ability to get what they want almost instantly. I’ll explain why:


On demand TV & Films

When I was a kid, watching the latest release meant going to the cinema. Failing that, you’d have to wait for a video van man to come around or go to the video shop to hire it. Even then, you weren’t guaranteed you’d see the film as someone else might have beaten you to hire it first. You would have to wait, and this taught you how to improve your levels of patience.

Nowadays, On Demand Generation can watch what they want instantly. Whether it’s streaming from a service like Netflix or watching a video on Youtube, they can get what they want when they want it. And even the new releases can be found in the dark areas of the internet on Peer-to-Peer websites. Put simply they don’t have to wait; they Google it and it appears on their screen – done.


On demand Music

Long gone are the days of traveling to Our Price or HMV to buy and album or single to hear your favourite song. When I was a kid hearing a new song first meant listening to the radio or getting the bus to town. Not anymore.

If a child wants a new song now they can get it every and within second, perhaps from a streaming service such as Spotify or through an MP3 download on iTunes. Failing that they can almost certainly find it on Youtube within a matter of seconds. On demand, no waiting, no need for patience.


Skipping the Adverts

I was watching TV with my daughter once when an advert break came on. “Fast forward the adverts dad!” she exclaimed. “I can’t”, I said, “it’s live TV”. May daughter was clearly very irritated by the idea that she would actually have to sit and watch the adverts. It’s was almost painful for her and that’s when I realised that this who concept of waiting was something she just wasn’t learning. The idea of waiting for something to occur in it’s own time was too much.


On demand Food

We’re all getting bigger (guilty) and it’s not helped by the plethora of fast-food outlets available. Why wait for a healthy cooked meal to be cooked when you can drive though a McDonalds or Burger King? Pay a few quid and within minutes you’re passed a burger and chips from a little window. And if burgers aren’t you think then fear not: there’s plenty of hot sausage rolls, sugary chocolate bars and sugary drinks available to snack on at a moments notice.


So how do we teach patience to the On Demand Generation?

I’m no expert on this field and I don’t have the answer. There’s some great advice in the article ‘Kids and Patience‘ which suggests you give kids lots of chances to practice waiting, treat kids as if they can control themselves and slow down your response times. Good luck!


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