Young people today…

I read an interesting book a number of years ago called Growing Up Digital by Don Tapscot. The book is based on a series of interviews Tapscot conducted with kids aged 2 to 22 during the mid-90s. He draws some interesting conclusions about how the information age will affect young people. Among the themes he explores: a hightened perceived need for instant communication with those close to us; feelings of dependence on technology; and perhaps most interesting, changes in the way kids learn.

I often think about what it was like to learn about technology when I was young and then I look at my young cousins who have been on MSN since they could bang a keyboard. They are certainly getting a very different perspective.

This news item about a 19-year-old who was sentenced to jail time for creating a worm (a kind of computer virus) made me think of another, more insidious way in which technology has affected young people.

8 Responses to “Young people today…”

  1. sieber says:

    This reflects back on the notion of getting away from the real world. Will the young people tolerate it or will they demand continued connectedness. OR will they demand, in the vacations, the antithesis of connectedness? Perhaps all 20 somethings will need to vacation in Antarctica.

  2. Jean-Sebastien says:

    Reading the article about the 19-years old that has been jailed made me think of something.
    It’s interesting to see how people still have a lot of difficulty to realize the
    “badness” of a virtual crime VS a physical crime. I’m not in the skin of that teen, but
    I’m pretty sure he didn’t even think a second he could be possibly get jailed for that act,
    when he did the virus. But in fact it is almost like he would have been running
    around town banging 48,000 computers with a hammer… would he have done that?
    Actually… maybe he would have… if he would have thought he couldn’t get caught.

  3. Liam says:

    While I can’t claim I grew up with the effects of the internet, I certainly feel like I interact with people a lot differently even then my brother who’s four years older than me. I actually prefer using the internet to keep in touch with most people, and more specifically MSN for most people about my age. Most of my good friends who I’ve acquired somewhat recently became such after I’d had them on MSN for awhile, and then got to know them better and started seeing them more often, almost like a relationship incubator. I used e-mail (in an awkward 11 year old way) back before most of my friends were quite up to speed with ICQ, but a few of them had access to e-mail, however the novelty of that wore off pretty quickly. But I’d say (judging from the e-mails I kept) that between 1996 and 1998, most of my friends got to using e-mail, and within a year or two, ICQ had caught on, and e-mail was relegated to something that was used if one either wanted something more serious, or you couldn’t track someone down online over a period of time. As it is now, I hardly phone anyone anymore (partly because a lot of my friends are now spread around a few area codes), haven’t written a personal e-mail in quite some time, but have huge volumes of MSN and ICQ history that should probably not be saved.

    I contrast this to my brother (who’s all of 24), who goes through a lot of long distance phone cards talking to various people, and who primarily uses e-mail to keep in touch with people. He’s aware of MSN, it’s just that his friends (who share a lot in common with my friends) just don’t seem to have quite the same common base.

    It’s interesting to wonder what sort of social patterns will become natural to people as the internet matures. I’d be kind of amused if it went full circle and we ended up with party lines with VOIP (phones over the internet).

  4. sieber says:

    Out of curiousity, Liam, do you print out your emails?

  5. sieber says:

    Your comment about keeping emails makes me wonder what kind of history we will keep of our own lives? Will we keep the choice emails to reflect upon in our later years? Or will constant changes in email readers cause us to lose those precious memories at some point?

    And what about ICQ or text messaging? As far as I know, there’s no mechanism to save those messages. So large chunks of our lives will be missing unless another innovation comes along that can more permanently record our everyday lives.

    BTW, this is the same concern echoed about the use of digital cameras.

  6. Liam says:

    Well, I basically haven’t deleted many actual emails since I started using my Yahoo! e-mail address, which I believe I signed up for about 6 or 7 years ago. Unfortunately, before they bumped up the storage limit to compete with Google, I had to go through and delete emails on occaison, I’ll check when I have more time how many e-mails that adds up to. However other than that, I actually have a pretty good record of just how lame it is to be in Junior High, all the way through to now.

    As far as messenger goes, logging is an option you can turn on. It’s usually on by default, although with MSN I noticed when I started using it asked me if I wanted to keep logs. I’m guessing I have a huge number of these logs sitting around (last time I checked I did), just waiting for me to become exceptionally bored one day and go through them.

  7. Ira says:

    I got my first hotmail address about 8 years ago, I don’t use the account much anymore and I don’t have any messages archived from it. I got my first POP account about 7 years ago and I’ve archived every message I’ve sent since then plus many, many received messages. I think I have over 20,000 email items archived. Wow does that sound nerdy!

  8. Liam says:

    20000 sure beats me, I’ve only got about 2500 e-mails saved. However, I do have over 30 megs of instant messenger conversations logged which according to word count is 1.6 million words, but I figure a lot of those have to be the markup used to store the logs, so I bet it’s actually about half that number of words.