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Majority of Teens Can’t Change a Tire – Is Tech to Blame?

Today’s teens may be pros at games like Grand Theft Auto, but when it comes to real-world car issues, they’re stuck on level one.

According to a new study commissioned by Michelin and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, 52% of today’s teens don’t know how to replace a tire. Twelve percent of the 2.2 million car accidents involve inexperienced drivers and tire issues, says Michelin spokesperson Stephanie Tarbet, making it even more troubling that teens are so little educated about how to properly maintain their vehicles.

“It’s one accident every two minutes,” Tarbet said, “and less than half of teens check their tires at least monthly.” Nearly one-third of teens don’t even know how to check their tire pressure – let alone how to use a jack and a wrench to change a flat.

Pediatric occupational therapist Cris Rowan, author of the book “Virtual Child,” said technology is to blame for teens’ mechanical shortcomings.

“The virtual world is very limited. There’s so much breadth in the Internet, but there’s very little depth. It’s all guided,” Rowans said. She said the number of hours children spent interacting with technology, rather than engaging in unstructured play, has deprived teens of necessary real-world skills.

“They don’t have a clue how to problem-solve in a 3D mechanical world, because they’re not exposed to play,” Rowan said.

Though technology may be to blame for teens’ lack of automotive knowhow, Children’s Technology Review editor Warren Buckleitner said it may not be a bad thing.

“No doubt kids are spending more time with screens and abstract concepts, but there’s strength to that because they’re learning digital concepts,” Buckleitner said. “One could argue it’s more important for their future to development [for them] to be learning a new set of skills.”

Follow Gabrielle Karol on Twitter @GabrielleKarol

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