In the Digital Generation Gap

If you are not a parent or teacher with children between the ages of 5-15, you might want to read something else. I know how it gets when people talk about kids.

If you are a teacher or parent, welcome to the new internet generation gap.

An article published in the New York magazine, Say Everything, details the online lives of Generation Y. The article takes a moralistic-angle to create a story; and asserts that the generation gap is greater now than when Elvis, Cliff Richard and The Beatles rock-and/or-roll perverted the lives of Generation-X’s parents in the 1950s/1960s.

It’s more than morals. It is about how the world is at the pivot point of a dramatic change.

This quotation from Clay Shirky summarised where we are at:

“Whenever young people are allowed to indulge in something old people are not allowed to, it makes us bitter. What did we have? The mall and the parking lot of the 7-Eleven? It sucked to grow up when we did! And we’re mad about it now.”

The moral side is important,Look at your internet-connected kids: what are they doing, right now?

As a comparison, I took a photo of Liam over the weekend that illustrated this major gap:

  1. Liam has both MacOS X Tiger and Microsoft Windows XP running, and is using both fluently. Vista will not be installed until he’s backed-up his PC, and he’s sure his games work.
  2. MSN Messenger is his connection to the outside world: rarely will one of his friends call on the phone; but I am sure he communicates more widely than I at the same age. His peers are world-wide, not local.
  3. There is a Firefox session running on the Mac with his favourite web sites (forums, not blogs) going. He says that he’s had a Firefox browser window running for 2 weeks, solid. 
  4. On the Windows box, he is creating an Adobe Premiere video clip (adding titling+encoding). Not only consuming content; he is actively adding bits to the world. The video comes from capturing an animation created using Garry’s Mod for Half-Life 2.
  5. He is listening to ABC’s Triple-J not via radio, but via Internode’s stream.
  6. Liam watches less broadcast TV than Avril and I. Way less. Yet his knowledge of what is current and newsworthy is no different. There  is no manufactured scarcity (either in time, or in physical atoms)
  7. Wikipedia answers everything.

Hyper-connected & digitally-creative.

Compare this to your world.

Making a ‘social networking’ platform that assumes you are connected and are writing, not just reading from the web: that’s next. THe next generation is creating these tools as the Baby boomers and Generation-X keeps looking at its collective navel.