Radio News, December, 1924, page 897:
Your Boy and Radio
By HUGO GERNSBACK
The following is an editorial published by the writer in 1914:
A SERMON TO PARENTS
"Keep Your Boy at Home"
THE strongest ties in life are the home ties. It makes a lot of difference, both to you--his parents--and to him too, when a young man grows up, whether his thoughts dwell with sweet pleasure upon his old homestead, or whether the remembrance of his home and his past home-life is painful to him.
THE views expressed therein are just as true today as they were 10 years ago with the exception that at that time the message was intended to reach only 100,000 where the same message today concerns literally many millions of young men, not only in this country but throughout the world.
How many well-meaning, fond American parents develop the home idea in the young boy? Are you not a bit to blame if your boy, when still in his 'teens, is seen too much in questionable company and in questionable resorts? Your boy is not naturally inclined to stay away from his home and his family. He is usually forced out, for want of something to keep his growing, inquisitive mind occupied; it's the something that he can't find at his home that forces him out. So out he goes. He drifts on, away from you,--the heartstrings loosen more and more, you--his parents--wonder and wonder and the boy becomes a stranger before you realize it.
Then It Is Usually Too Late to Mend
This is--alas--only too true a picture of the average American youth. And it is so easy to keep your boy at home. He doesn't want much, just something to dabble, to tinker, to experiment with and to keep his inborn insatiable curiosity satisfied.
You know your boy likes nothing better than this, he was born for it; are you going to club it out of him?
He has the right idea--the home idea; somewhere in him is a spark alive that needs but proper fanning to create a future Edison, a coming Marconi.
Electricity, especially Wireless, are positively the strongest home-magnets today. His workshop, his small electric laboratory of his Wireless Den are the most powerful home attractions for the 20th Century Boy.
Electricity and Wireless are the coming, undreamed of, world-moving forces. Don't kill the electric spark in your boy. It costs little to keep it going, and some fine day it will pay you and your boy handsome dividends.
Only one boy in 300 is interested in Electricity and Wireless. Your boy has the electric "bug." Thank the stars for the fact that he is so deeply interested in the greatest art the world has ever known. It's a distinction, besides:
"It Keeps Your Boy at Home."
It is true that today millions of boys and young men all over the world are experimenting with radio, and it is also true that it would be a still greater boon if many more millions were to take it up. To the uninitiated, to the layman, and to most parents, radio today is still a big enigma. Many people still look upon it with a feeling of trepidation; stranger yet, many parents view it with apprehension when their bright off-spring begins spending their hard earned money on radio paraphernalia. There are still many people who have the idea that radio is only a fad which will disappear sooner or later. To these good people we wish to say that radio today is a vast industry which stands 34th on the list of all the industries in this country. It is an industry already greater than that of railway car building. It also already rivals in dollars and cents the ship-building industry which, as everyone knows, is of considerable size.
The writer's message years ago to the parents of the young men then was that radio kept their boys at home, off the streets and away from bad influences. This is just as true today as it was then. The modern boy easily becomes bored at home. He has the adventurous spirit and it is a matter, of vital importance for him to use his surplus energy. For that reason, as a rule, he seeks amusement away from home, whereas it is quite a simple matter to cultivate the home ties if the parents go about it in the right way. If the young man becomes interested in radio he will soon forget the pool room, the corner hangout and the questionable "gang" he was getting to know so well--too well. He will be so busy at home trying out the latest hook-ups that it becomes somewhat of a problem to get him away from his radio. Of the two evils this seems to be the lesser, for, as long as he is at home, at least the chance of his going wrong is more remote.
But this is not the important consideration. The far greater and vital point is that we know of nothing that sharpens one's wits more effectively than the intricacies of radio. Not every boy has the brain or the inclination to ferret out the mass of radio circuits and technique. It takes real brains and stick-to-itiveness to build a radio outfit and make it work.
If the young man shows an inclination toward radio he should be encouraged with all possible means. The expense in no case is very great and the educational value derived by the boy can never be figured in dollars and cents. Impressions upon the mind are strongest in youth as we all know. What is learned and learned well in youth is hardly ever forgotten. The boy experimenter of today may be the radio magnate of tomorrow. The radio industry which today has already reached tremendous proportions will probably be one of the leading industries ten years hence, and those who get their feet firmly implanted in that industry will surely grow up with it.
If Edison had not been an experimenter in his boyhood he would not have attained his present success. If Henry Ford had not been mechanically inclined in his childhood the world might not have a reasonably priced car today. The list could be continued indefinitely. In radio it is all-important that when a six or an eight year old boy shows any leaning towards it, the spark should be fanned with all possible zeal.
Radio is vastly more complicated than the electrical and mechanical arts just now. Important changes occur almost every month. It takes many years of hard work and training to become a radio engineer. Too many "radio engineers" today masquerade under that name; some of them have been at it but a short time, while many boys of 16 have been at it since they were eight years old and probably know more about the new art than many self-styled radio engineers. It is a fact that when radio became a big thing in 1921, practically every radio amateur was immediately drawn into the new industry and a great many of them today are in some commanding position. Even if the radio enthusiast who has been at it a number of years should find it necessary tomorrow to go into some other line of endeavor the writer still maintains that the radio training will leave its mark upon him during the remainder of his life.
The radio mind is always keen and sharp, and whether this thinking is applied to the radio or the banking business makes little difference. It is a valuable acquisition that will probably grow more valuable as the years go on. Radio to the young man today is a valuable college education. It not only trains the mind to useful and careful thinking, but it trains the young man manually as well. In building a number of radio sets he becomes well versed in the handling of tools and the handling of a surprisingly large amount of materials. He comes into close contact not only with a vast number of various metals which he must not only know thoroughly, but also various kinds of woods, hard rubber, bakelite, cottons, silks, and many other products. He soon learns to appreciate values in a business sense because he is quickly trained where to buy his materials and how to buy them at the lowest price. This is an education in itself.
Radio to the youth is the best possible foundation of the future self made man.