Monday, November 28, 2005

Reflection on "Growing Up Digital"

This writing is a reflection on The Culture of Ineraction, the 4th chapter of the book Growing Up Digital, by Don Tapscott.

Mr. Tapscott writes about N-Gen communities of cyber families and friends, gender differences showing increased use by girls, N-Gen language usage and short-hand for contextual nuances of emotion [termed Smileys; e.g., :) ]. and the critical nature of netiquette. This is all very interesting and enlightening. However, the aspect of the article most interesting to me is the compilation of The 10 Themes of N-Gen Culture. These are as follows:

1. Fierce Independence
2. Emotional and Intellectual Openness
3. Inclusion
4. Free Expression and Strong Views
5. Innovation
6. Preoccupation with Maturity
7. Investigation
8. Immediacy
9. Sensitivity to Corporate Interest
10. Authentication and Trust

What I find fascinating is the incredible reversal from the experience of the previous generation (Generation X) to the current N-Gen generation. Generation X has been the culmination of a trend in which "adolescence" has stretched farther and farther in terms of age; i.e., adoloescence has stretched into the 20 and 30 year range as demands to enter adulthood have seemingly withdrawn.

Now, however, there seems to be an impetus that is reversing this trend. Prior to the 20th century, teenagers were expected to do an adult's job on the farm, in the family business, etc. Working in an adult's job seemed to lead to adult behavior, interaction, and responsibilities. The internet has provided a new landscape in which teenagers are not working in the adult world, but they are communicating in the adult world. A world in which these teenagers are often, in fact, more comfortable than the older generation. This interaction seems to be having the effect of kids "growing up" more quickly.

Whether this is positive, negative, or a mixed bag is debatable. It does seem that gaining the skills and attitudes listed in the "10 themes" is a great deal more positive than other examples of kids "growing up" quickly -- namely commiting violent crimes, using drugs, and having sex at younger and younger ages. What is of further interest is that this potentially positive phenomena may make the older generation uncomfortable for different reasons; i.e., not because of how horrible the world is becoming due to the younger generation, but discomfort at being less competent than the younger generation in this new internet world.


Blogger training guru said...

You are on target with your last sentence, Rod. Being a "boomer", I know I am not as competent as my daughter and that is scary as well as embarrassing. I also found you thoughts about kids in the past who were expected to help with "adult" chores. I think this concept changed with "boomer" parents giving their kids everything without much reciprocation required. Interesting comments and thoughts!

9:36 AM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger kathyholster said...

Your comments about teenagers growing up more quickly in the adult "working" world in past generations as compared to teenagers growing up quickly in the adult "communication" world are so true. Sometimes it seems that teenagers are so comfortable communicating with adults they come across as being disrespectful, or close to it, at times. Maybe just another case of a generation gap.

6:26 PM, December 31, 2005  

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