[ECAR 2005] When Everyone Connects to Everyone…


…and Everything Connects to Everything

Lee Rainie (Pew Internet & American Life Project)

Meet the Millenials, born 1982-2000. Might be a bigger generational cohort than baby boomers, the most diverse in American history – 31% minority. They think of themselves as a special generation apart. They are sheltered and more confident in every measure. Less individualistic and more team-oriented – date in groups, travel in packs. Highly achievement oriented – a rebellion against their baby-boomer parents. They feel pressured – the generation of the hurried child.

The most distinguishing thing about them is their special relationship with technology. They started elementary school when the Internet became something of interest in the culture. There are striking differences within the cohort – divide by class, sex, race, etc.

There’s an interesting study of very young children and media by the Kaiser Foundation.

8 realities of Millinals’ lives and 8 implications

1. They are immersed in technology. 87% of kids 8-18 live in homes with computers. 46% have high speed internet access in their home. The presence of a minor child in the home is a strong predictor of having a computer and Internet in the home. The implication is that teens expect to be able to gather and share information in multiple devices. They shrewdly sort out what communication and what information “belongs” on what device and under what circumstances. “Email is for old folks.” – It’s what you send you teacher, your uncle, your parents.

2. The internet plays a special role in their world. It’s how the get information on movies and TV, tnhey play online games, use IM (75%), download music, read blogs. Teens share their own creation – they are contributors to the online commons. They’re much more likely to do this and to create blogs than adults. They want to manipulate, remix, and share content. They love to play with the media, to have fun, and show off. They think of themselves as participants in a dialog more than consumers of media. They live in an “always on” world. They think of the internet as a: virtual textbook and reference library; virtual tutor and study shortcut; virtual study group; virtual guidance counselor; virtual locker, backpack, and notebook; and as a trusted, smart friend.

3. They are multitaskers.

From the Kaiser Generation M study – they spend to 8.5 hours of media access per day in 6.5 hours of time. The live in a state of “continuous partial attention” – Linda Stone. “scanning incoming alerts for the one best thing to seize upon”. Plans aren’t firmed up until the very last minute. We’re in a state of “mild social panic” about the new rules of civility in this new environment. The number of possible interventions has grown beyond those in the immediate physical environment.

4. Their technology is mobile – 45% have cell phones, etc. They’re constantly interacting and forming “smart mobs” and “presence” is a concept that is less physical and more virtual to them. They act on information in real time. This is causing all kinds of social strains as boundaries break down between public and private’ work, school and home’ and consumer and producer.

5. They are unconscious of being “on” technologies. The internet and other technologies have become the wallpaper of thelives. Implications: The use of technology for time shifting will be commonplace. THe importance of “appointment media” will fade and the value of ever-better search strategies will elevate. Long tail content will matter more.

6. They are often unaware of the implications of their tech use

75% agree: “Music downlading and file sharing is so easy to do, it’s unrealistic to expect people not to do it”. 55% say they do not care much whether what they download is copyrighted or not. They are often uncaring about their own privacy and they enjoy “soft surveillance” of others. This may change as they grow, but some of the smartest companies are using this to their advantage. There will be new models of things that grow up as a result. Greg Jackson makes the point that they’re very jealous of their privacy when someone they don’t want to finds them (e.g. spam) and they don’t get the connection between their voluntary disclosure and its sometimes unintended results. There are opportunities for “teachable moments” in here.

7. Different teens use technology differently: boys and girls; young and old; broadband and dialup, etc.

Jack McCredie asks if there’s any information on why, given this level of technology savvy, there’s fewer students wanting to go into computer science or math – there doesn’t appear to be any real data here.

8. Technology world will change radically in the next decade

Trends – a smarter environment (the extreme example being rf devices embedded in the soil); mor mobility will be built into the system; content creation will explode; search will get better and more social; the pressures on the internet to break into layers will intensify.

Implication – there are no Jedi masters for educators to consult in this new world.

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