Following up on our most recent "kids today" post, I decided to spend a few minutes over lunch searching Google Books for interesting examples of the genre. Thus:
Many children today are greatly to be pitied because too much is done for them and dictated to them and they are deprived of the learning processes. We seem to have dropped into an age of entertaining, a breathless going from one sensation to another, whether it be mechanical toys for the five-year-old or moving-picture plays for the sixteen-year-old. It not only destroys their power to think, but also makes happiness, contentment, and resourcefulness impossible. At seventeen, life is spoken of as "so dull" if there is not "something doing" every waking hour.
That's from Gail Harrison, "Modern Psychology in its Relation to Discipline", Journal of Proceedings and Lectures 53:658-661, National Education Association of the United States, 1915.
Or this, from Edna G. Meeker and Charles H. English, "Home Play", The Playground, 1922:
A few years ago there was no such choice of recreational activities as is offered today and the family was more nearly a unit in participation. Now there is a noticeable disintegration in interests which is a large factor in breaking down family solidarity. Parents lament their inability to understand or influence their children today. Parental respect and the bonds of fellowship and sympathy seem to have weakened. The socially-minded student points to these conditions as indices to more serious complications.
For fans of eye-dialect, here's "Beans and Cabbage" from Donald J. Howard, Stubby Jenks, 1921
Paw sez it usta be that a Familly had about one big Pot full of Stuff like Mush or Cabbige or Beans or Sumthing and a littel Bread on the Side and the Kids wud line up along the Festive Board and Rapp there little Selfs aroudn this Stuff in grate Shape, but now Days Kids is got to be pamperd and they don't like this hear and they dont like that their and the Cook of the House got to be a Book Keeper to get Everything strate adn be sure one of the 3 Year Old Offsprings aint going to Turn up his Noze at the Meal when its Dished out.
Paw sez what the Spoild Kids Today needs is a Chance to get Hungrie and it wuddent be long till they wuz Cryin for there Cabbige and boilt Potatos. that mite be the rite Dope but the Cabbige wud boit till it wuz Black in the face before i wud Cry for it on ackount of me not liken it a tall.
Going back a bit further, Emiel Eyben, Restless Youth in Ancient Rome, writes:
[The 4th-C. sophist Libanius] described the unmannerly behaviour of his pupils during a solemn lecture, a presentation to which a wider audience was admitted. He had ordered a slave to call the students in. They hardly budged, continuing to chat, laugh and sing the top hits of the day. Finally, they condescended to enter the hall, yet their lackadaisical attitude roused the ire of those already present and made them resentful. Finally the lecture could begin. The students, however, were winking at one another, were talking about this, that and the other, about charioteers, mimes, horses, pantomimes, and fights among students. Some students lolled about like statues, arms folded, while others picked their noses with both hands at once, remained utterly unmoved while everyone applauded, forced enthusiastic members of the audience to fit down. Their behaviour could be even more disgraceful: they clapped at unsuitable moments, prevented others from applauding, strutted ostentatiously through the lecture-theatre and tried to lure as many people as possible out of the hall by concocting false messages or by spreading round invitations to the baths.
Connoisseurs of the genre will also appreciate Farnsworth Crowder, "Our Parasitic Children", The Rotarian, May 1940.
[For a more systematic and high-minded account of some of the associated themes, see Arthur Herman, The Idea of Decline in Western History.]