This just in from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute: teens lose interest in driving the more they use social media and other forms of non-physical connection. At least these findings aren’t prompting any more pieces about how tweeting, facebooking, or texting is leading to more car accidents or deaths. But the bad news, of course, is that the American economy isn’t being helped by a shrinking number of drivers/car buyers. It can also be argued that people are missing out on knowledge that only comes through face-to-face physical contact, in all its gloriously diverse variety.
Analysts in the U.S. have found an 11 percent decline in the rate of car sales among millennials, those born between 1981 and 2001, within the last five years. Some of that decline can be attributed to the rise of social media, as well as to the expensive necessity of owning tech gadgets, a higher cost of living, and the recession and its after-effects.
Overall, it’s a double whammy. Social media gives young people alternative ways of connecting — ones that don’t require physical presence — and new technology like laptops, smartphones, and tablets compete with cars for young people’s extra cash. The cars are striking out because in today’s society, it is more important to own a decent laptop or phone than it is to own a car.