Now I’ve heard everything. Did you know that social media and electronic devices are hurting the car manufacturing industry?
Lindsay Kirchoff, 23, from the software company HubSpot and a millennial trend marketing consultant said, “The Internet has made the freedoms that comes with getting a (driver’s) license anticlimactic.”
When folks ages 18 to 34 were asked, 65 percent said they would rather do without a car than their phone or computer.
These days, kids’ social life is on the information highway, not on an actual highway.
Were you like me and COULD NOT WAIT to get your driver’s license? If memory serves, I waited outside the DMV on my sixteenth birthday for the doors to open. My license meant a ticket to freedom.
When I went to Bedrock High School with Fred Flintstone, we took driver’s ed. in school. Now, kids/parents have to pay for driver training and fit the lessons in around an already jammed schedule.
Thirty years ago, nearly half of sixteen-year-olds had their driver’s license. In 2010, the number dropped to 28 percent. What is wrong with these kids?
The shift is blamed on the way kids can now stay connected via smartphone or computer instead of gathering at the malt shop for entertainment on a Friday night. Why go to a drive-in movie theater when you can watch a movie on your laptop? You can stay at home with your boring parents and still hang out with your friends via Skype, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.
Teenage apathy about driving has serious consequences for the car industry. Automakers have to convince teens that they need a car at all.
“Mom will drive me (geez, entitled kids these days).”
“Gas is expensive.”
“I buy everything on-line.”
“I talk to my friends on Facebook.”
In l985, 3.4 percent of new-car-sales were to drivers aged 15 to 20. In 2012, the number dropped to 2 percent.
What happened to watching submarine races? What happened to cruising a la American Graffiti? What happened to sneaking in the house when you missed your curfew?
I get that kids have a hard time finding a job in this economy. Ergo, they can’t make car payments or afford insurance. Heck, you need a Swiss Bank account so you can pay for gas. But why not want to get their license and drive their date to the prom in mom’s mini-van?
Oh, yeah. Mom pays for a party bus to take you to the prom so you don’t drink and drive. (I’m okay with the no drinking and driving thing, but party bus? Isn’t that encouraging drinking?)
Status among the teen-set is now measured in gigabytes instead of horsepower. Making lasting memories in the backseat of a car is a thing of the past. If you have a retina display on your iPad, who needs to make-out with the high school star-quarterback to be one of the cool kids?
Researchers say this also has long-term implications for automakers. Because this generation isn’t forming an emotional attachment to cars, they will buy fewer cars over their lifetime.
Some also blame teen’s decreased desire to get a driver’s license on the lack of time. Kids nowadays are over-scheduled with sports, tutoring, AP classes, and SAT prep. Read: College application padding.
I was an anomaly among my peers when our kids were of driving age. My fellow moms dreaded the day their children could drive. With three kids, three school start times, three soccer practices, and three whatever’s, I spent more time in my car than in my home.
But kids these days would rather Tweet than get their driver’s license?
- Smartphones, not cars, drive teens’ social lives (seattletimes.com)
Russel Ray Photos said:
I had no need for a driver’s license since I lived in a small town and everyone else had a driver’s license. I just went with them. Real easy.
I often try not to drive now, preferring either walking, biking, or riding the many trains we have here in San Diego.
Cruising is illegal in many cities. My hometown of Kingsville, Texas, made it illegal back in the early 1980s. At that time, it had a lot to do with the Arab oil embargo. Now cities have decided that they just don’t want cars driving around in circles and cluttering up the roads. I agree with them.
And think of the gas cruising wastes. At $4+ a gallon, kids can’t afford to cruise.
Russel Ray Photos said:
Certainly not if they want a iPod, iPad, iPhone, and iTunes!………….lol
On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 12:24 PM, Robin Coy
This is interesting, and I guess I’m of two minds about it. I never formed an emotional attachment to cars, but that didn’t stop me from buying one because I needed wheels. (Men are the ones who form the emotional attachment; women simply need a vehicle to get things done!–so I’d be interested to know who came up with that bit of logic.)
Anywhooo–I think that most kids are reckless on the road, and it doesn’t really bother me too much to know that they’re not panting at the DMV the day of their 16th birthday. On the flip side, the reasons they give for not being interested in driving or a car are terribly immature and foolish. What would these kids do for a day without their I-everything? What would adults do for a day without a car? It’s an interesting comparison.
Funny you should say “i-Everything.” I was at the kitchen table with my daughter the other day and we counted up the Apple products in the house. There were 10. Five computers/laptops, three iPhones, two iPads. Had Paige brought her iPad home from college, there would have been 11 Apple products. If the other two girls were home, there would have been 15 Apple products. Hmmmm . . . that is a topic for a blog post. Watch for it.
The Hook said:
What an age we live in….
Hmm, you have me stalled here. Growing up (Are you older than me? I swear I went to school with Pebbles.), I wanted my driver’s license but knew I wouldn’t have a car until, at least, college. Money just wasn’t there. I have always been happy driving and, after the stroke, worked so very hard to make sure I passed all my new tests and could still drive. It made me so very independent. Still does. Having said that, I understand why kids don’t care as much about cars now. They are not as much fun, they cost way too much (including maintenance), and you truly don’t need to leave your house near as much. I go so many more places on my PC than I ever could in my car. As well, I didn’t need my car at all to get published. I have figured that I could, do without a car, if I had to, but it would mean changing quite a few things. Not impossible, just not nearly as easy.
So, you see, I am confused. I see both sides.
I do most of my shopping on-line these days and drive much less that I used to. However, according to the research, kids aren’t driving as much because they are hanging out on-line instead of hanging out in person. They don’t feel the need to be in the same room. Tis rather sad.
I lived in a small country town – driving was essential to go anywhere else. I was away at school but the day I got home after my 17th birthday I went for my provisional license, which was somewhat of a given as I babysat the local policeman’s kids! As soon as I had that license my Dad put me to work driving here there and everywhere on his behalf. These days I live in the city, commute by train and only drive to the shops every week or so but I would never give up my car. A couple of times in my life I haven’t had my own car and it was a disaster. Parking has become an issue in the city and for that reason many residents utilise community car schemes. Times are changing in some places but I’d be pretty sure in the country kids are still counting the days until they get a drivers license.
Oh yes . . . when my girls got their license and loved the chance to drive, they were my errand runners. Out of milk? I always had someone to run to the store for me.
I love the idea of a community car program. It makes so much sense for city dwellers who don’t need a car very often. So how did you adjust from country girl to city girl?
Oh, it was a very long time ago… and the city was less citified than it is now… but I still enjoy the space if not necesarily the pace of the country 😉
Carol Wuenschell said:
So social media have finally done some good, have they? This will probably save lives, not to mention reducing the carbon footprint.
I’d love to see the statistics to see if teen accidents and deaths decline. I imagine they will. They have to, right?
The driver’s license was a rite of passage for my generation. But I’m not sure fewer drivers is itself a bad thing. It would be better for the environment if this led to good, reliable mass transit both within and between cities. And on a related note, we might see a shift in how and where people work in the future. Telecommuting might also be a plus for the environment.
Of course, the decline in real social interaction (face to face between people in the same space) could result in a major cultural and behavior shift in human evolution…. Science fiction writers have done countless stories on this theme, and some of them might come to pass….
Our public transportation here is terrible so we rely on our cars. In Portland where my sister lives, her daughter didn’t feel the need to get her license because she could get anywhere she wanted . . . a concept our daughters couldn’t fathom.
I hate the idea that kids would rather interact via an electronic device that learn to drive so they could interact in the same place. Hate it.
Dennis Langley said:
On the up side, the lack of demand may cause the car manufacturers to lower prices in an attempt to stimulate more sales. Or, no.
And I wonder if since there is less demand for gas, prices will go down. Or, no.
Dennis Langley said:
I couldn’t wait to get my license when I was 17, it was like cutting the umbilical cord all over again. I think it’s important for kids to get their license, they’re gonna need it to get to their job, to pay for their college degree right? My kids are growing up in a house with a father who’s a muscle car fanatic. (Mustang Shelby convertable in garage at present) They love it, they’ll never drive it, but they love it. Enjoyed your post!
My first car was a 1966 Mustang! I loved that car. Just to set the record straight, it was considered a vintage car when I bought it. I’m old, but I hate to make it sound like I am 10+ years older than I am!
I’ve had my license for over a decade but have never been able to afford my own car. And actually it’s an expenditure that I’ve not been able to justify. I’d like a car, but for now, I consider myself lucky to still be able to use my mum’s car!
You must have good public transportation when you live.
The Laughing Housewife said:
Why are you surprised? Have you not noticed that kids never leave their rooms any more? All of their social interaction is over the ether. Why would they need a car?
Yeah, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. You don’t see kids outside playing much either.
The Laughing Housewife said:
It’s very sad 😦
Valentine Logar said:
As much as we lament the electronic age, this outcome is a good thing. My youngest did not have a license until he was 19, he could not afford all that went with it and I wasn’t paying the piper. While I would wish we had more mass transit, more options for social interaction that included real face time, well I don’t think this outcome is an entirely bad thing.
Delaying teenage driving will surely result in reduced teen accidents and deaths. Not to mention, reducing our carbon-footprint. I’m A-okay with both of those things.
Anything that keeps teenagers out of cars is a good thing I feel- first of all cars drive heaps faster than the cars when we were young, so that accidents happen more often and a lot quicker, with no time lag. In NZ, young people- especially young men have the highest death-rate in cars of any other group.
Research has also shown that areas of the brain to do with judgement don’t mature until the early twenties for young men… which translates into they drive too fast, especially when they’ve had a few drinks.
And anyway – why not help preserve the planet, and reduce the use of gas- guzzling exhaust producing, noise polluting machines?
Excellent points. It is just that I hate that kids are satisfied with interacting on-line versus in person. Hanging out with friends now means hanging out on-line. Sigh.
My licence is 46 years old.. and still good to go.. when I do go to renew it, it certainly seems that all the kids are trying to get licences, as the DMV is full of them…
Thank goodness I haven’t had to go to the DMV in ages. I’ll certainly pay attention to the teen sector next time I need to torture myself with a trip to the DMV!
several of my son’s friends don’t drive, and these aren’t city kids with a lot of access to other transportation. I don’t get it. They don’t date, there aren’t submarine races. If this is the way it is now, I’m damned glad to be as old as I am.
My daughter thought I was a nutso when I said something to her about submarine races. I think she said something like, “What’s the point of watching a submarine race?”
T. W. Dittmer said:
Various industries have produced a long stream of excuses. Unfair trade practices. The education system. The government. The unions.
For better or worse, the times are changing.
Vanessa-Jane Chapman said:
I’m in two minds. On the one hand I don’t like that kids are staying indoors too much and interacting with people mostly through electronic means, but on the other hand, I’m all for kids staying away from driving for a while, they have a disproportionately high number of accidents. Plus, as has been said (probably, I haven’t read all the comments!), the less cars on the road, the better for the environment. It all boils down to parents encouraging their kids to go outside more really doesn’t it, but I really don’t mind if mine don’t rush to get a license as soon as they’re old enough!
In thinking about this discussion, I realized something. When my girls were younger, they played outside all the time. You had to be careful driving on our street because there was always a ball game going, roller hockey, bikes, etc. We still have a lot of young kids in our neighbor but our street is virtually devoid of kids playing outside. I assume they are inside playing video games . . . sigh.
My son is 18 and doesn’t have his license yet. He wants one, but he knows he can’t get one until he can afford the responsibility. He has had a heck of a time finding a job and prays he’ll find something full-time once he graduates high school in June. Right now we are on a bus route and he plans to take the bus to get to work That way he can save his money to buy the car he wants and pay for his own insurance. I guess it’s my fault in a way because my kids knew if they wanted a car, they’d have to buy it themselves and pay for it. Driving isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. He also doesn’t have a smartphone. We can’t afford it. if it’s one thing I can be proud of, my kids understand budgeting. If they can’t afford it, they don’t get it. So many kids nowadays have everything given to them by their parents, including their cars and smartphones. They don’t know the value of working their butts off for something they want. That’s what’s going on in my house. 🙂
You have done a fine job of raising a smart and responsible young man. We made our kids work for the “extras’ they wanted. That was not so the case with most of their friends. My girls thought it unfair at the time, but now they say the appreciate we didn’t give them everything little whim they wanted.
What an interesting theory. I wonder if it applies to pushbikes as well as I no longer see hordes of kids on theior bikes.
Wow. Never thought of that. I bet you are right. For that matter, kids in our neighborhood don’t play outside like they used to . . .
I think I remember you now from Bedrock High School 😀 (that gave me a big giggle, Robin)
I got my licence THE DAY I was old enough. I couldn’t wait. I’m not surprised kids aren’t all that keen anymore and just want to tweet and FB – they don’t need to go anywhere, everything is at their fingertips! 😉
Or their mom gets it for them!
Weren’t you a cheerleader at Bedrock?
I was the clown dressed as a pteradactyl that ran around the ground urging the crowd to cheer for their team. Man I was hot in that suit! 😀
Hot as in temperature, or hot as in good looking? Or both?
I think that social media have started down a very slippery slope here, Cantankerous-at-Large.
First it’s just the auto industry. Next thing you know, the drug industry will find that social media occupies our youth and reduces the use of recreational drugs. Then the alcohol and tobacco industry will lament when they find a similar reduction in alcohol and tobacco. Over time, our youngsters will use mass transit, eat nutritionally good foods, read books (electronically), barter instead of amassing debt, …
How will this end? Not well, I fear.
Social media will be the end of all good things. Why make-out in the backseat of a car when you can sext your boyfriend? Damn, I should have used that line in the post.
So following your line of logic, kids won’t have fun anymore.
Cantankerous at large.
Nah, kids will always find a way to have fun. It’s you and I that won’t have fun anymore as we get inundated with the need for new products whose purpose we can barely understand.
At first I thought this was going to be about the Ford motor co. ads in India: the ones showing how big the trunk space was by showing 3 sexy young girls tied up in the trunk..considering the problems India is having with rapes, that adv. has irritated many – Ford has apologized.
But this is social media – not media. Maybe you are right…childhood delights have changed. There will always be gear heads – but maybe not as many with mass transportation, the anti global warming , the danger of drive-by shootings into other cars around here. Also the schools used to force all boys to take auto shop in 7th grade (girls got homemaking).
We were dragged to the country/farm on weekends…boring except you got to practice driving: tractors in pastures – and once old enough to look old enough to drive, down dirt roads and paved county roads with no middle line and not much traffic. (boys then tended to get drivers licenses early as they had to pick up girls for dates)
My daughter got her license (paid driver’s school) – she had landed an internship for 1/2 day during Sr year with a doctor and had to be able to drive to various hospitals. We “shared” a car which means she got it which was OK as I traveled out of town during the week most of the time. And she worked full time during the summers as soon as she turned 15. She knew about earning money, how much the government takes out, and what stuff cost. I always felt safer with her driving rather than her friends.
Kids just don’t seem to have that carefree cruising childhood anymore. Or the mindset. A real loss.
Great post. Should be Fresh Pressed
I hadn’t heard about that Ford ad. What were they thinking?!? Idiots.
As you say, there is an upside to kids not driving, or driving less . . . the reduction of teenage accidents, the environment, etc. I wonder if teen pregnancy rates are going down too? I bet a lot of those happened in the backseat of a car.
I felt the same way with our girls. I would much rather have then drive then be a passenger of one of their ditzy friends. I also liked the provisional license period. It gives the kids a chance to learn what they are doing before putting other kids in the car at risk.
Thanks for thinking this is Freshly Pressed worthy! I’m flattered.
Pete Denton said:
A sad state of affairs.
I got my license when I hit 17, the age we can start driving over here. I bought a car and learned the fundamentals about driving. Maybe they haven’t seen the classic films of the sixties/seventies and eighties to have the desire to drive.
They need to get out more, but are waiting for Mom to drive 🙂
“Rebel without a Cause,” “Thelma and Louise,” “Gone in 60-seconds,” etc. Hmmmm . . . on second thought, maybe it is good they haven’t seen those movies!
Pete Denton said:
Err, yes. Keep them away from the video store 😉
Maddie Cochere said:
Very interesting, Robin. I don’t remember why, but I waited until I was 18 to get my license, and I even took driver’s ed in school. Maybe because my neighbor was my best friend, two years older than me, and she had a car, so she drove us everywhere. That was when gas was cheap!
I think our son waited until he was 18 to get his license as well. There was really nowhere for him to drive to, and he and his friends were getting around town on their bikes just fine.
I taught him to drive. I took him to an empty K-Mart parking lot (store closed down), put him behind the wheel and told him to have at it. That was much easier than teaching him on the road.
I do miss the days of cruising. We had a park system where we could cruise all night long. Three parks with a road running through and kids everywhere. You can no longer do anything like that anywhere around here. It’s sad.
I want to say I could fill up my car for $10 when I was in high school. Does that sound about right? I would then pocket $10 from my paycheck and bank the rest. Both the tank of gas and the $10 lasted me until the next paycheck! But perhaps I am dating myself here.
We used to cruise on a Friday night too. And go to the drive-in movies. Remember how horrible those speakers were? I learned how to drive in our empty high school parking lot at night. Man, did I pop the clutch a lot until I got the hang of it. Thankfully, my mom was a patient teacher.
Perfecting Motherhood said:
I can tell you I won’t push my kids to get their driver’s license as soon as they turn 16. When I see how teenagers drive, I have no incentive to let my kids do that too. I was lucky to grow up next to Paris, with a great public transportation system. Although I had a car, I used public transportation a lot, especially when going to Paris, since you can’t park your car anywhere there. San Diego’s public transit is pathetic in comparison, so I’m sure my kids will need to find a way to get from point A to point B. Bicycling is not an option either because you get run over. People really drive like maniacs here, it’s scary.
Thank goodness for the strict provisional driver’s license process in California, right?
Perfecting Motherhood said:
Haha, from what I see every day on the road, it’s not strict enough! But it’s probably a little better than some other states. In France we can’t get a license before the age of 18. That’s two more years of maturity but it’s still not very safe. Heck, some people obviously never learn to drive well ever!
That is shocking! I couldn’t wait to get my license. How sad that some will give up getting out of the house for some real interaction, opting to sit in their room texting…
And sad that they would rather have a cell phone over a car.
They have made the damn laws so freaking complicated to actually GET your license and then WHEN they do it get it, there is a tiered system of who they can drive with. It makes my head spin. The kids don’t want to deal with the nonsense, so they wait til they are 18. It is so damn expensive to take drivers ed and if they don’t take, you have to squeeze in 40 hours of driving with the teen in order for them to even take the test. Try doing that with everything else? Not to mention the heart attack of teaching them?
There is apathy– and it is perplexing. I also know that in my house, my daughter knew the responsiblity and safety of driving was important. I think today’s kids are not as willy nilly as we were. At least my daughters are not– how that happened I have no idea.
But still, I don’t understand why they don’t want to drive. I made her appointment,pushed her out the door and demanded she get it. She did and she is happy.
These kids can’t cruise around and have fun like we did. Their high school days are jam packed with high stress expectations– college forced down their throats, ap classes, honor societies, sports, volunteering– you name it– school crams it in. I had to fight the school to allow my daughter to UNDER -ride an AP class next year. TOO much! I can go on.. but I better stop. My blood is boiling haaa
Why can’t they just be kids and goof off a bit?
The biggest stopper for teens driving these days has to be the price of gas. And maybe by the time they go through the provisional license stuff, the novelty has worn off.
Im my day, we didn’t do any extracurricular activities. It was school, and that is it. Sports weren’t offered for girls in the area where I grew up. There was no such thing as AP classes. Getting together with friends was the center of our universe . . .
yup. I am counting my blessing that I do not have to worry as much because they are not out driving around but still, I want them to have some fun while they are young. It is not happening. I’m thankful college girl is embracing life and all that good stuff.(aside from the other regimented stuff)
Maybe if the kids could buy cars for a few hundred bucks too that would make a difference– no clunkers around anymore either.
And kids might not be willing to drive a clunker. You should see our high school parking lot. It is like a luxury used car lot. We live in an area with a lot of entitled kids. I rode my bike to high school, for Pete’s sake.
Here too. We are the poor folk in town. No extra car here. Dream on kiddies.
Let's CUT the Crap! said:
I am so attached to my car, and you’re right, having one at your disposal is FREEDOM and independance. I live in the burbs so I need a car to get anywhere or get anything done. I bellied up to the door for my driver’s test as soon as I turned sixteen, not that my father would be giving up his car much. Still, it was a badge or honour.
On the other hand, although my grandkids are only nine and five, already I worry about them in cars, be it with their friends or if their parents provide wheels.
I was always more comfortable when my daughters were the driver, not their friends. They knew how to handle the car and knew that if they blew it, car privileges would be revoked in a heartbeat.
We need to look on the bright side with this, I think. For example, most 16-year-olds are menaces on the road.
Especially while texting.
Interesting subject, Robin! I was the same as you, getting my permit at 15 1/2 after driving training both in the classroom and on the road and then waiting at the DMV door to get my license. I grew up in a rural community and high school was 20 miles away–with stops about 45 minutes on the bus. I was also a junior in high school by the time I turned 16 so I felt way overdue for my independence although my folks didn’t always have two cars. Scotty, our son, started driving the ranch road at age 9 so by the time he got his license he was pretty seasoned. On another note, cars used to be so cool when we were growing up–Mustangs, Firebirds , Malibu’s. Now they all look the same and have no character unless you can spend over $100,000 on one. I still care about how my car looks (hoping for some cool rims and meaty tires to replace the stock ones). I grew up with two older brothers who always had cool cars and they made sure mine was as well!
I learned to drive in my mom’s vintage l965 red convertible Mustang. The first car I owned was a 1966 Mustang. I loved those cars. I can’t imagine kids these days not having a love affair with an automobile. They want their cell phone over a car? It says something about the times.
Ally Bean said:
I wasn’t all that thrilled about getting my license, so I kind of relate to this trend. Considering how many accidents are caused by teens, this might not be a bad thing. Safer roads & less air pollution sound good to me, also. Still, it does seem odd.
True. Our roads will be safer, as long as the teens who are driving aren’t texting while driving.
Ally Bean said:
Tell me about it. I got rear-ended by one of those texting teens. It was a fender bender, but what an experience for her & for me.
Let’s hope she learned a lesson and doesn’t text and drive anymore.
Jilanne Hoffmann said:
I think it has more to do with the demographic shift from rural to urban. If you have mass transit–and if it’s more scary to drive in the city than to drink or do drugs (and waaaaaay to expensive to buy insurance for those young adults, especially in California), you’re not gonna be selling as many wheels. I’d like to see a statistical breakdown between rural, suburban and urban youth to understand the “trend.”
I know when I was a teenager living in a rural area, we put quite a few of my friends in the ground after car accidents. And I think they’re still putting many a teen in the ground where I grew up. Now, they’re crashing because they’re trying to text and drive, not just drink and drive.
Seeing the breakdown between rural, suburban, and urban would be interesting.
You can always tell when the driver in front of you is texting . . . scares the heck out of me.
on thehomefrontandbeyond said:
neither of my sons have their drivers’ licence — the younger one is itching for his, but the older one was in an accident and has no desire–
Do you think he will ever get his license?
on thehomefrontandbeyond said:
I hope so –but he seems to be getting along without it — as are a lot of my friend’s kids — it is not that unusual anymore
Now I’ve heard everything! I couldn’t wait to get my license and drive. I still like to drive and I’m an excellent driver, if I do say so myself. I do understand that kids seem to be over-stressed these days with SO MANY extra-cirricular activities but choosing a smartphone over a car? I don’t get it. Wow.
I don’t get it either. I don’t even like it when I am carless when my car is in the shop for a day.