Tamara J. Erickson collected and analyzed intersting data on what she calls the “Re-Generation”: individuals at the formative ages of 11 to 13, those born after about 1995 [which, by the way, has a gap of three years].
- How swimming in this digital soup has shaped the young generation’s view of the world. What assumptions have they formed? Four themes emerge:
- A pervasive sense of connection: Connectivity is the basic assumption and natural fabric of everyday life for the Re-Generation. Technology connections are how people meet, express ideas, define identities, and understand each other. Older generations have, for the most part, used technology to improve productivity — to do things we’ve always done, faster, easier, more cheaply. For the Re-Generation, being wired is a way of life.
- Options (not obligations): Because technology is so intimately intertwined with the Re-Gen’s sense of self, they control it in a way that older individuals often don’t. While Boomers or X’ers may feel obligated to respond to the technology, the Re-Gen’s use the technology with choice – on their own schedule, at their own pace.
- Anonymity and the ability to hide: By connecting through technology, Re-Gens reduce the need to connect face-to-face. Many have friends they’ve never met with whom they interact regularly. This creates a strange sense of anonymity — they can be everywhere if they choose to post or, depending on their preference, nowhere. Physical appearances can be replaced with avatars. The alarming epidemic of childhood obesity may be related to this generation’s ability to hide.
- Confidence and control . . . to be an initiator, designer, problem-solver: This is a generation that is used to asking big questions — and is confident of finding answers. Will the water run out? How many children travel to school in a sustainable way? Are cities a good idea? Let’s check the Internet. They have had the experience of digging deeply into a burning question because they have access to a mountain of information.”