Most 8YO’s of today will have no conscious memory of a time without the augmentation of a mobile device on their person, and an instant connection to the worlds information. For them, every answer to every question is seconds away – every piece of information they could possibly want. A large percentage of what they digest into their brain will come through a device, not a human interaction, and what remains will likely be provided unasked for from friends and family. They will unconsciously see their devices as critical pieces of who they are, and will be less concerned about the physical connection to those around them. The reason for this will be the immersive ability to connect online, and inability to really distinguish, or value, a human connection versus one online.
Who the iGeneration will call “friends” will be vastly different than generations past. Already the word “friends” has come to have a dual meaning that crosses from someone you interact with at school, to someone you interact with online and have never met in person. This allows an 8YO to connect with a high volume of people, more frequently. My daughter “knows” hundreds of kids from other schools, and when she sees them in restaurants, she can identify them, but never talks to them in real life. Although some people think this is a negative new concept, I know it trains them from an early age to be suited to work on a virtual team in a remote office, and that will serve them well in the coming economy.
How an 8YO is entertained today looks nothing like what a child did to pass the time 30 years ago. Gone are creating new games in the backyard that always included running, hiding, or tagging. Also rarely seen at this point are board games played at the kitchen table with other family members. Television has morphed from three black and white channels to thousands of on demand choices that have to be filtered because of their overly adult content. The 8YO’s delivery vehicles today are various flat panel screen sizes depending on the time of day.
How an 8YO learns is changing radically. Books are being replaced with eLearning applications, and online videos. When a mobile device can answer every question, they gather more information by volume than past generations because it is so fast to their fingertips. There only challenge is discerning what to believe on the screen. Instead of one teacher, they have hundreds who have recorded any piece of knowledge on the Web – for free in most cases. Need to learn to change a tire? Just look up the YouTube video. Need to know how to solve a specific algebra problem? Just go to any number of Websites to see the video, and the answer all at once. Will they be smarter than their parents? Absolutely they will, there is no question.
An 8YO today communicates with the people around them in a completely new model. Gone are the days when time or geography dictated who they talked to, and gone are the days when their parents could control who their child communicated with. Don’t kid yourself that you can hide them from using a mobile device because they will just use a friends when you are not looking. They can talk to each other 24/7 through many different channels depending on what they want to say (show) or how much they like the person. Parents and family on Facebook, distant friends on Instagram, and close friends with Snapchat. Text messaging for anyone they want to connect with instantly to comment, question, or update. Their patterns of communicating do not even resemble what their parents did as children. And, with all those channels to connect, they have learned to change the purpose of the face-to-face connection. It is more of a show that must be put on when parents or teachers demand it. While their true emotions get displayed on their mobile device.
I love the 8YO’s of today and the iGeneration they will build. I also am very clear that they will be very different than the generations before. While we could say that about any generation, there has never been one that will be quite this different…
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