Youngsters today have their eyes set on high marks for a purpose — the grand reward of a car or a 3G phone on the other side of the exam, writes NEETI SARKAR

At a time when teenagers are gearing up for their board exams, parents invariably resort to using external rewards to get their kids to study. Those were the days when these motivators were limited to a few hundred rupee notes, a treat at a three-star hotel or probably a trip to a neighbouring State, but the times they are a' changing and people change with the times.

Today's teenager has hefty demands even before the commencement of the board exams. From touch-screen phones and IMacs to muscle cars and visits to shopping paradises around the globe, youngsters sure know how to strike the best deals and parents know how to get their way around their children who hanker for tangible rewards.

Karun Menon, a 15-year-old says: “My parents have promised to get me a bike if I score an 80 per cent. I get an iTouch as well if I manage to get a 90.” His classmate, Tania D'Souza, who is interested in photography, can't wait to get her very own SLR camera.

Pooja Trivedi, an 18-year-old Commerce student is looking forward to the end of May already. “The thought of driving around town in my own car is reason enough to slog until I'm done with the exams. To ensure I give the board exams my best shot, my parents have already booked a car for me,” she explains.

So does anyone actually study to do well or to get into a good college anymore? Is intrinsic satisfaction a thing of the past? Do kids burn the midnight oil only for tangible rewards?

According to Rani Mathew, a mother of two teenagers, “We live in an age where we quantify everything — from love to success. Also, when you know there is a solution to your problem, you're bound to use it to your advantage. The truth is iPods and play stations do work for the present breed of youngsters.”

What comes as a surprise is that many parents have stopped expecting their children to score “good marks”. For those parents who can afford management seats, a mere pass percentage would do. Loy Karat, another parent says: “My daughter has always been the average student. I don't want to pressurise her to do well. Also, I've planned to enroll her at a fashion design school that expects one to have only a 50 percent in the boards.”

Parents at fault

School counsellor Shireen Sait believes the new age parents are culpable for this situation. “Instead of encouraging their kids to do well, to study so they get admission in college on the basis of merit, parents don't feel the need to teach their kids to look beyond extrinsic rewards. The success stories of those who weren't smart at school but made it big later and the fear that youngsters today contemplate suicide when the going gets tough is another reason why parents are satisfied with the mediocre achiever.”

However, there are youngsters who work hard because they don't believe there is a short cut to success and are driven by internal satisfaction. And for those, whose parents cannot afford management seats or 3G phones, there is no choice but to give the board exams their best shot.