Today’s College Students Lack Empathy

Interesting little piece by Yahoo News yesterday, with some research to back up something I’ve definitely noticed. College students today are less likely to ‘get’ the emotions of others than their parents were.

This new study from Michigan’s Institute for Social Research reviewed 72 studies of 14,000 American college students and found a huge empathy drop after the year 2,000.

“Generation Me” is earning their name.

The article proposes all kind of theories as to why, including increased exposure to media, social media, and today’s hypercompetitive focus on success. But another theory is simply how busy people are and the fact that they don’t have time to sit down and just listen to others. A graduate student interviewed in the article suggested, “College students today may be so busy worrying about themselves and their own issues that they don’t have time to spend empathizing with others…”

Interesting stuff.

My two cents: Get our kids involved in mission work. The more we expose our kids to the compassion of Christ and put them in situation where they can serve the needs of others, even just listening… the more our kids get out of their little “me” bubble.

Talk with any kid after a mission trip (even local trips feeding the homeless) and you’ll see a slightly different worldview.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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One Response to Today’s College Students Lack Empathy

  1. Wes says:

    This is nothing new. College has long been the most selfish time in a persons life. Everything is “about me.”

    Generation me has gotten to this point b/c their parents have perfected the art of making everything about their kids.

    My wife & I feel the pressure and face the criticism b/c we don’t have our kids in every “good opportunity” which presents itself. Our home is not all about the kids, it is all about the family. Looking out for each other, not ourselves.

    What’s more we are trying to make our home all about ministry, reaching out to those who are hurting or just need some encouragement. We need to model to our kids what it looks like to celebrate w/ those who are happy, and to weep w/ those who are hurting.

    It’s too bad that most “christian” homes just model what it looks like to be more moral than your neighbors.