Sunday, March 09, 2008

Text Generation Gap - R We Really 2 Old?

This article in the New York Times confirmed what I have personally observed about technology use by teens for some time. As an older boomer who is not digitally challenged, however, I cannot help but think some of these developments are disturbing. I recoil at the thought of how much bandwidth is wasted every day by teens and even many adults who somehow think their every thought is worth sharing with someone. The NSA must get really tired of trying to sift through so much drivel looking for suspicious communications. I also find it irritating that today's youth arrogantly stereotype all older adults as "clueless" when many of us are the ones who actually developed the technology they are so blithely using. I guess most of all I wish people would use this technology for more meaningful applications. I'm glad some families think cellphone use keeps them in closer communication with each other but I can't help but wonder if their virtual lives based on these shallow exchanges are supplanting the more intimate relationships that develop with face-to-face conversations.

"Children increasingly rely on personal technological devices like cellphones to define themselves and create social circles apart from their families, changing the way they communicate with their parents.

Innovation, of course, has always spurred broad societal changes. As telephones became ubiquitous in the last century, users — adults and teenagers alike — found a form of privacy and easy communication unknown to Alexander Graham Bell or his daughters.

The automobile ultimately shuttled in an era when teenagers could go on dates far from watchful chaperones. And the computer, along with the Internet, has given even very young children virtual lives distinctly separate from those of their parents and siblings.

Business analysts and other researchers expect the popularity of the cellphone — along with the mobility and intimacy it affords — to further exploit and accelerate these trends. By 2010, 81 percent of Americans ages 5 to 24 will own a cellphone, up from 53 percent in 2005, according to IDC, a research company in Framingham, Mass., that tracks technology and consumer research.

Social psychologists like Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied the social impact of mobile communications, say these trends are likely to continue as cellphones morph into mini hand-held computers, social networking devices and pint-size movie screens.

“For kids it has become an identity-shaping and psyche-changing object,” Ms. Turkle said. “No one creates a new technology really understanding how it will be used or how it can change a society.”

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