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Tech Tools Fostering "Mini Generation Gaps" 322

Posted by kdawson
from the you-way-twitter-i-say-facebook dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times has an interesting report on the iGeneration, born in the '90s and this decade, comparing them to the Net Generation, born in the 1980s. The Net Generation spend two hours a day talking on the phone and still use e-mail frequently while the iGeneration — conceivably their younger siblings — spends considerably more time texting than talking on the phone, pays less attention to television than the older group, and tends to communicate more over instant-messenger networks. 'People two, three or four years apart are having completely different experiences with technology,' says Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project. 'College students scratch their heads at what their high school siblings are doing, and they scratch their heads at their younger siblings. It has sped up generational differences.' Dr. Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, says that the iGeneration, unlike their older peers, expect an instant response from everyone they communicate with, and don't have the patience for anything less. 'They'll want their teachers and professors to respond to them immediately, and they will expect instantaneous access to everyone, because after all, that is the experience they have growing up,' says Rosen." Read below for another intra-generational wrinkle.

Another intra-generational gap is the iGeneration comfort in multi-tasking. Studies show that 16- to 18-year-olds perform seven tasks, on average, in their free time — like texting on the phone, sending instant messages, and checking Facebook while sitting in front of the television; while people in their early 20s can handle only six, and those in their 30s about five and a half. "That versatility is great when they're killing time, but will a younger generation be as focused at school and work as their forebears?" writes Brad Smith. "I worry that young people won't be able to summon the capacity to focus and concentrate when they need to," says Vicky Rideout, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
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Tech Tools Fostering "Mini Generation Gaps"

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  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:36PM (#30716214) Homepage

    I guess I'm Net generation. Except that doesn't sound right for anyone I know of my age group.
    Furthermore, I've always adopted the best tools for the job, and ignored blatant fads such as twitter.

    As for multi-tasking; Again, not a generation issue, as task switching just interrupts. Texting and facebook updating is a leisure activity, and doesn't mix with work at all.

    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:46PM (#30716308) Homepage Journal

      Furthermore, I've always adopted the best tools for the job, and ignored blatant fads such as twitter.

      Exactly. I was born in the early 1970s and I've used the Net and electronic communications in general since the early-to-mid 1980s. I use text messages. I used to pay much more attention to the TV than I do now.

      These distinctions, I think, are artificial at best, and at worst, stereotyping.

      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:13PM (#30716548)
        ...You are on Slashdot. You are not the norm. The fact you are even on this site shows that you are more inclined to use a computer than other people your age.

        As for TV, the quality of programming has gone downhill, even news shows are nothing more than glorified tabloids. Networks that used to have interesting programming has shifted to more crap. Discovery is more about blowing stuff up than explaining science, the History channel seems to be nothing more than WWII and explosions.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by vlm (69642)

          Networks that used to have interesting programming has shifted to more crap. Discovery is more about blowing stuff up than explaining science, the History channel seems to be nothing more than WWII and explosions.

          How could you have missed the rotting carcass that is now rebranded sifi or whatever, but may as well be called the Ghosts -n- Wrasslin Channel? Also, isn't History the "Jesus" channel now, with about half the documentaries being "biblically inspired" like true stories of the prophets, etc? No, I'm not talking about EWTNor daystar, I mean Disc or TLC or Hist or one of those which seem to be filled with "christian documentaries" some weekdays.

          There is an internet related reason for the decline of quality T

        • Discovery is more about blowing stuff up than explaining science, the History channel seems to be nothing more than WWII and explosions.

          Come on Discovery channel is way more than explosions. They got computer generated imagery of dinosaurs, shark bites, more dinosaurs, disgusting food from tribals, some more dinosaurs, disaster videos, and some dinosaurs, some more shark bites and did I mention dinosaurs?

      • by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @10:03PM (#30719150) Homepage Journal
        And subject to time-of-life constraints.

        A high schooler will use IM because they, and all their friends, go to school and come home at the same time - everybody's there - and because they can discuss forbidden topics without it being obvious to parents. A college student or recent grad will be much more interested in the FB/Twitter update experience as they plan their evenings. And someone with a home and kids will appreciate that using a phone as a phone means that your hands are free and your eyes are not occupied - so you can spot when the three-year-old is about to see if daddy's PS3 likes carrots.
    • by fast turtle (1118037) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:59PM (#30716416) Journal

      Get Off My Lawn Kids

      Having been classified as ADHD in the early 70's it's so nice to finally get my revenge now that everyone has been infected with the damn Attention Deficit Syndrome. Those who don't learn to focus and develop short term memory are bound to fail and I can sincerely state "Welcome to my World" - sukkers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jurily (900488)

        Having been classified as ADHD in the early 70's it's so nice to finally get my revenge now that everyone has been infected with the damn Attention Deficit Syndrome.

        Exactly. The things we do in front of the computer now are inherently multitasked. That doesn't mix well with not inherently multitasked things we do, like having a spoken conversation with someone.

        When you browse, code, write an email, etc. all at once, you do the scheduling. When someone starts talking to you, you have two options: a) schedule them in with the rest, and make them believe you're not paying attention (and/or are unable to, hence ADHD), or b) throw your whole state of mind out the window, an

    • by c_forq (924234) <forquerc+slash@gmail.com> on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:00PM (#30716426)

      I've always adopted the best tools for the job, and ignored blatant fads such as twitter

      What? Sometimes twitter is the best tool for the job. I was born in the mid-80's, and have found twitter to be a great tool for meeting friends at the pub. It is more effective than a facebook update or mass text.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Idiomatick (976696)
        But with a twitter update you can only get together with people that use twitter, there is your flaw...

        (I couldn't help it, sorry
    • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:03PM (#30716462) Homepage Journal

      Agreed... my own experience is this article is nonsense and not indicative of such as a whole.

      I've been using computers since 1979 (at the schools I went to), started programming in BASIC back then, worked my way up. I'd been using BBS's since the first computer I owned - which was an IBM PC Portable (an IBM XT in a suitcase sized case with amber screen). I was in the first bunch of people to actually use the Internet (I used OS/2 almost exclusively, and we had actual Internet access long before Windows - while Windows users were suckered... I mean stuck with AOL or NetCom). Nowadays, besides the "Net Generation" stuff, I regularly text, IM, use Facebook, read blogs, etc - along with all of the other "iGeneration" stuff. And accessing all my stuff from my phone (TMo G1) when I am not in front of the computer... email, visual voicemail, IM, chat, text messaging, web, Facebook, etc.

      So, if this "old dog can learn new tricks" and my friends have as well... I doubt there is any real divide as indicated by the article. But I could be wrong... most of my friends are very tech savvy - but even so, I doubt the "divide" is anything to speak of. Even my mom text messages and such.

    • by icebike (68054) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:13PM (#30716554)

      I guess I'm Net generation. Except that doesn't sound right for anyone I know of my age group.
      Furthermore, I've always adopted the best tools for the job, and ignored blatant fads such as twitter.

      For work issues, I don't even answer email immediately, because I have no intention of serving as a brain trust for people who will not think. I let them age. The more I get from a single source the more I let them age.

      For recreational use, I still prefer an email for anything other than the "What time will you arrive" question via text.

      Thinking carefully, I can not come up with a single person I care to follow on twitter, but it is nice for breaking news issues if you are a news junkie.

      I think we are breeding the first generation of the BORG. People who can't think and can't act without first checking in with the collective.

      • by dangitman (862676)

        I don't even answer email immediately, because I have no intention of serving as a brain trust for people who will not think.

        I don't know what your job is, but exactly what kind of emails are you getting that leads you to this attitude? Don't you get any other kind of email at work? The bulk of the work email that I get is about setting up meetings, asking for feedback on projects, information about new policies and procedures. I can't think of the last time I got an email as a "substitute for thinking," whatever that means.

    • by RDW (41497) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:40PM (#30716734)

      'Texting and facebook updating is a leisure activity, and doesn't mix with work at all.'

      I wonder how many of the other supposed differences are really down to the younger generation being, well, younger? A text message is probably cheaper than a voice call, which is handy if you're on a limited budget with a PAYG phone. A school or college age kid may have a wider social network than an older person in a full-time job, so online networking tools could be more useful. There be may less tendency to veg out in front of passive TV entertainment like an exhausted wage slave if you're out enjoying yourself all the time. Multitasking could be less difficult for a younger brain, etc. Of course, these are just the senile ramblings of an ageing mind, so take them with a pinch of salt. And get off my lawn.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642)

        ... A text message is probably cheaper than a voice call ...

        Well, I can tell you're not in the USA.

    • Exactly what I thought: BULLSHIT of the highest grade.

      I was born in ’78, and I communicate preferably with an IM client, via phone or by meeting someone. Just like friends of mine who are 10 years younger, and sometimes 10 years older.
      And I already did this in ’96 right when ICQ came out, with many young people of my age. A time when that pseudo-article suggests ICQ users were just about to be born.

      Yeah right.
      You know what? I’m from ’78, and I use EPIC FAIL, to describe this farticle

      • by PyroMosh (287149) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:56PM (#30717962) Homepage

        I was born in 79, and while I think the article is exaggerated a bit, I'd say it's basically accurate from my experience.

        I suspect that you're doing something people do all too often: seeing others through the lens other your own worldview, and being unable to imagine otherwise.

        As others have pointed out; your very presence here on Slashdot proves you're not the norm for your, or any generation. People here use alternative OSes, (and know what an OS is, for that matter), terminal services, were on BBSes when they came out, and are generally more "wired" and comfortable with technology in general than the general populace.

        Yes, lots of people are on Facebook. That doesn't prove anything. Facebook is just the new "cool" communication medium that everyone jumped on (last cycle it was MySpace).

        I will cay this, though - While I think the author's data is basically correct, I'm not sure all of the conclusions they draw from their data are correct. For instance, the Pwe study he cites mentions a marked decrease in usage of IMs between teens and 20-somethings. Well, I'm 30. And I know I used IM constantly in high school, and through my early 20s. As I grew older, I used it less and less. Likewise, all my friends who I used to IM with are in the same boat. For us, it wasn't a correlation of generation, but of simple age, and where we are in our lives.

        Teens go to more concerts and play more sports than their 20-something counterparts too. This isn't a function of "generations", but of simple age.

        I actually suspect that if a formal study was done, following folks usage patterns across generations for a long period of time, that you'd see my generation at 20 used IM more than the current crop of 20-year-olds. We didn't have Facebook and Twitter, or even text messages. IM, email, and the phone were basically it for us. So we used IM quite extensively. The average kid today lives much more by his or her cell phone than their PC compared to how my "generation" did.

  • by Pluvius (734915) <pluvius3 @ g mail.com> on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:37PM (#30716220) Journal

    They'll want their teachers and professors to respond to them immediately, and they will expect instantaneous access to everyone

    And they're going to be quickly disappointed.

    Rob

    • by xmundt (415364)

      Greetings and Salutations...
      Yea...the message on my cell phone says "I am busy solving someone ELSE's problem right now...leave info and I will solve YOURs as soon as I can". Folks tend to forget that I carry the cellphone for MY convenience, not the world's. Since nobody is going to die if i do not answer for a bit, I see no particular urgency in dropping the task I am doing to answer a call.
      Now...I find that the person who I

    • by boaworm (180781)

      Exactly, sounds like this generation is going to have a lot of fun when they start entering the real world. Applying for a job and giving up after 10 minutes, or even worse resending the application like that :-)

      When I grew up *cough*...

      Nostalgia simply isn't what it used to be!

    • by icebike (68054) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:17PM (#30716584)

      A failure to out grow the "Are We There Yet" syndrome.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:31PM (#30716678)

      They'll want their teachers and professors to respond to them immediately, and they will expect instantaneous access to everyone

      And they're going to be quickly disappointed.

      Rob

      Dammit, we are tired of waiting for quick disappointment! We demand INSTANT disappointment!

    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:33PM (#30716682) Journal

      The article makes a couple of leaps and doesn't seem to understand tech.

      First off, the number of tasks in front of the tv. Is this a generation difference OR an age difference? They seem to claim that young people do more tasks because they are exposed to more modern technology at a younger age. HOWEVER this would ONLY be valid if they KEEP doing this as they get older. Else the conclusion must be that as you get older, you do fewer things at the same time.

      And then they claim that instant messaging results in an instant reply. But SMS is NOT instant, voice is. So, if they want an instant reply, why do they send an SMS?

      I think the author of the article tries to hard to make connections.

    • They'll want their teachers and professors to respond to them immediately, and they will expect instantaneous access to everyone

      And they're going to be quickly disappointed.

      Rob

      You got that right. The communications technology I pay for is for my benefit, and I'll respond if and when I feel I need to. It's called "prioritization", and only small children think so highly of themselves as to always expect instant gratification. Adults learn very quickly that they're not automatically at the top of everyone else's list.

    • by sohp (22984) <<moc.oi> <ta> <notwens>> on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:55PM (#30716888) Homepage

      That's OK, they'll get their comeuppance when they go into the workforce and find management also expects instantaneous access to them -- 24/7/365.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:38PM (#30716240) Homepage

    I'm from the beginning of the 80s...and not only that, I'm from a country that was under Soviet influence. Meaning "radio, telephone and TV" for a few decades; few generations knew nothing else. Till the first half of 90s I knew nothing else.

    And yet, when reading TFS, I have a strong impression its description of people born in the 90s and 00s fits nicely to me. I guess in large part because I fully realize "our times were better" is only BS meant to make oneself feel better about youth that has passed or is passing away. And it causes harm by unreasonably valuing the past above present, which is almost universally better. You only have to embrace it (well, I do pick what I want; but the time of introduction doesn't play big role)

    • Some people keep learning and changing as they get older. The vast majority do not... they stick with what they learned when they were kids, habits and so on, and that's that. You're an aberration ;)

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:50PM (#30716352) Journal

      Same here. Born in the USSR in mid-80s, and I've first seen a PC (which was also the first programmable computer to me) in 1995. Cellphones came a lot later, too - I've only got a personal one in 2000. Internet? Don't recall now, but it was late 90s, and even then it was dial-up, payed per-minute, with rather insane prices, which effectively rules out many things (e.g. IM).

      And yet, I don't watch TV, I prefer SMS to voice calls (both sending and receiving), and I use IM more often than email.

      Then again, my motivation is different than the one claimed in TFA ("expecting immediate response"); for SMS, for example, it's quite the opposite - it doesn't require the person receiving them to pay immediate attention, but lets them respond at leisure. I appreciate when people are considerate of my time like that, and try to be considerate of theirs. And with IM, it's just more convenient, UI-wise, for short messages on no particular topic, compared to email, but also doesn't require immediate reply (as evidenced by the fact that any decent IM network these days lets one send messages to offline users; hey, even MSN/Live learned that trick!).

      I also agree with your reasoning as to why you prefer all those things in general. Progress is good; why wouldn't I embrace it?

  • by hackwrench (573697) <hackwrench@hotmail.com> on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:39PM (#30716246) Homepage Journal

    Dr. Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, says that the iGeneration, unlike their older peers, expect an instant response from everyone they communicate with, and don't have the patience for anything less.

    I thought that one of the benefits of texting was that you don't have to have a response immediately, or even read it immediately.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      Indeed. What do they think phone calls are? Speak into the phone and get a reply 5 minutes later?

      • What do they think phone calls are? Speak into the phone and get a reply 5 minutes later?

        You've accurately characterized the voice mail practice of a lot of the people I communicate with.

  • Patience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:39PM (#30716248)
    Which all sounds like a polite way of saying that kids these days have been spoiled. Instant gratification, be it through next-day felivery net-based purchases, simplistic video games or instantly downloaded media, means they have no patience.

    Younger people scratch their heads in amazement at the things people of my generation and older have done that required supreme patience, whether learning a complex skill or finely crafting a model. This comes right on the heels of lacking discipline. If you can't see the value or take the time to perfect anything, how will you ever get good at anything except the trivial?

    Oh, and get off my lawn.
    • Oop, spotted a typo. Must be that stitch in my side acting up and distracting my careful editing. Don't worry about it too much - I'll go have a cup of tea and a lie down.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Cool broad assumption and generalizations, bro
    • by dangitman (862676)

      simplistic video games or instantly downloaded media,

      Yeah, because today's video games are so simplistic and lacking in complexity compared to yesterday's intellectually stimulating classics such as Pong, Space In vaders and Pac Man.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by greg1104 (461138)

        Playing Pac-Man well requires intense concentration, memory [nrchapman.com], and plain old fashioned stamina. If you don't find that intellectually stimulating, you have failed to understand the game.

        • by dangitman (862676)

          Playing Pac-Man well requires intense concentration, memory [nrchapman.com], and plain old fashioned stamina. If you don't find that intellectually stimulating, you have failed to understand the game.

          If you think that's what "intellectually stimulating" means, then you have failed to understand the meaning of common phrases. And just because it requires concentration and stamina, doesn't stop it from being simplistic - many simplistic tasks require these things, such as working on an assembly line.

          Anyway, modern games require just as much concentration and stamina, yet tend to be much more complex.

    • Maybe or maybe it is one more case where the newer generation expects older generations to be proficient at newer technologies. Today, we can communicate instantly with one another and the youngest generation has embraced the technology that allows this degree of communication and expects older generations/peers to be able to catch up to them to some degree. SO it may not be so much a character flaw in the newest generation as it is a failure of the older generations to adapt to and utilize new technology

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by instagib (879544)

      No patience and no discipline - although I agree with you, this is the same thing our parents remarked about us, and their parents about them. But here's another issue: the cheapness, speed and simplicity of obtaining a prefabricated meal, toy, and most other objects means that learning to DIY seems superfluous. Therefore, the deep gratification of being able to consume or use something you created yourself - in a physical sense - has been lost. IMO these are the first years of human society shifting the se

    • My mom refused to let me watch Sesame Street when I was a kid because she swore the constant changing from topic to topic gave kids ADD (although they didn't call it ADD in those days). With constantly changing stimulus everywhere, there is no need for kids these days to learn how to focus. I know of no studies addressing the topic, but I do know a lot of college students I talk to these days need music or noise going on or they can't focus on studying.

      In any case, more important than focusing I think i
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sootman (158191)

      I'll get off your lawn when my brother gets off mine.

    • by sohp (22984)

      Spoiled and demanding instant gratification they may be, but the management at their corporate overlords will just LOVE them, especially if they go into IT. No more of the grousing our generation does about being on 15-minute response call 24/7/365! Their managers will exploit this to make them feel guilty about taking more than 5 minutes to get to fixing something.

  • No Need to (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:40PM (#30716260)

    I worry that young people won't be able to summon the capacity to focus and concentrate when they need to

    Doesn't -every- older generation say that? First it was that comic books were killing novels, next it was MTV killing attention spans, now it is multitasking.

    The thing is, most young people have no real need to focus and concentrate. With the increased importance placed on education, both high schools and colleges are passing more students because you need a degree to be successful. Just think, a hundred years ago a high school education was all most people needed and people could still be successful without it. Today most people need at least some college or vocational training to do almost anything.

    With jobs, it is collective blame, no one person takes the fall usually a small team will take it. There are few occasions where young people really need to focus.

    • If you think there are few occasions where young people really need to focus, you are forgetting one huge important one: driving. Driving requires sustained focus not only for your own sake but for others' as well. A lot of people are hurt or killed because they are distracted or inattentive while driving. Not surprisingly, motor vehicle crashes are one of the biggest causes of mortality of young adults.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I suspect their expectations will change once they start communicating about things that can't be answered with OMG LOL.

    Regards,
    Jason

  • by Baron_Yam (643147) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:41PM (#30716264)

    When I was a child, there was no public Internet. In my late teens we had dial-up web sites that would pass messages back and forth with each other as far as a local call would go.

    I don't miss those days - I think information should be available more or less instantly 24/7 if possible.

    However, the current constant phone texting, Facebook, etc crap is just that, crap. It's electronic substitution for true socializing, and I can't help but feel that when a bunch of people stand around unable to interact with the people in their immediate vicinity because they're texting with someone who couldn't be bothered to actually show up... well, I think there's something wrong with that.

    Sometimes the younger generations ARE wrong. I think the problem is these technologies are fad technologies and the people making them popular haven't outgrown them yet.

    Call me if the text-aholics of today are still rabidly texting when they're 30.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:59PM (#30716418)

      Let "true socializing" mean socializing with uninteresting people in your local neighborhood and "false socializing" mean socializing within boundaryless global pools of people who share your interests.

      My brother has met all kinds of people to go off-roading with in his larger than local sphere. That kind of possibility simply wasn't there before instant messaging made everyone seem closer to their shared interests. I'm certainly no authority on socializing, but I don't believe that there's any social sense of being a human being that's lost when you socialize over a text medium vs in person. If anything, it allows us to socialize with more people than ever before.

      Only thing that's not great about it is that we are likely to be more exposed to social networks we do not agree with, which may cause larger conflicts vs smaller isolated instances of ostracization. But that's inherent in the risks of globalization as a whole.

    • In my late teens we had dial-up web sites that would pass messages back and forth with each other as far as a local call would go.

      You called them "web sites?" Really? We had these things called BBS's, which did something very similar to what you describe -- but you had actual web sites! Wow!

      • by Baron_Yam (643147)

        D'oh. Spence BBS, IIRC, was the most popular software for the boards I visited. Usually running off a C=64 and a bunch of 1541 drives.

        Gimme a break, my RAM is old and it's non-CRC.

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      I'd say it is a change that is not going away post 30. I've seen people start texting when it came available and still do today, because it has become easier than a voice call in a number of situations, and that text messages almost always get through. Plus, it beats voice mail especially for a very short note such as "we arrived at the pub."

      The main technology that was replaced by texting is the pager. A lot of pagers will miss the signal being set out by the broadcast station, especially in a server ro

  • Too true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Icarium (1109647) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:42PM (#30716276)

    I'm in my early thirties and I avoid multitasking like the plague. My younger colleagues and siblings seem to have no problems with doing several things at once - but the flip side is they end up doing many things twice simply because they sacrifice focus for versatility. They're so busy trying to do too many things at once that they rarely get anything done properly.

    As for being always in contact, I couldn't care less. I'll usually answer as soon as possible, but I have no qualms when it comes to ignoring calls or messages if I'm busy with something, or simply don't feel like talking to someone. I don't expect people to be available on my schedule and see no reason why I am obligated to be always available when it suits them.

    • Multitasking for the most part is a myth. It's a rare person who can do several discrete working tasks at the same time and actually be good at it.

      This is especially evident when I sit in someone else's car as a passenger. The number of people who can't talk and drive a car at the same time (and often they don't realise it) astounds me.

    • I'm in my early thirties and I avoid multitasking like the plague.

      I'm in my late forties and I feel the same way. Well, I'm also a software developer and multitasking doesn't really help much there ... a little concentration helps get the job done. An old girlfriend once called me "completion oriented", and I would drive her nuts because I would rather finish something right rather than do it halfway and skip to the next thing, and then try to come back to the first thing having forgotten what the hell I was trying to do. I've also found that the majority of multitaskers

  • Seems to me there was a study recently that showed that people were pretty bad at multi-tasking, due to the time lost in context switching. This would seem to indicate that the "iGeneration" would, in general, be poorer workers than their older brethren. Or have the new kids gotten better at the context switching somehow? (Maybe added cores to their brains? :)
    • by mrsmiggs (1013037)

      Perhaps it's an experience thing, rather than any sort of trend. I guess I count as part of the so called 'net generation' and I used to multi-task a lot; instant messaging, blogging, playing games, studying etc all at the same time. Around the time I was at university my behaviour changed, I think mainly because I didn't want to screw up my degree. To me some of the observations made in the original article sound like the naivety of youth rather than anything actually heavy weight. They demand instant resp

      • by Icarium (1109647)

        Multitasking, in and of itself is not the problem. It's an inability to separate the professional from the personal and to prioritise activities that causes many frustrations.

    • This is anecdotal evidence, but I am certain multi-tasking is something that can be improved with practice.

      Part of it is just technique, like leaving all your necessary windows open on different virtual desktops for quick switching, and some of it is keeping your mind awake.

      I used to work for a consulting firm where I was doing work for three different clients at the same time. At first it was hard mentally, but pretty soon I got really fast at it. In fact, I felt like multi-tasking was more productiv
  • by level_headed_midwest (888889) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:44PM (#30716288)

    The instant-gratification bit in the article regarding messages is certainly true, but it goes much further than that. Many of these people born in the 1990s feel that the entire world should instantly respond to them and they get extremely impatient when it doesn't. They also tend to have the attention span of a gnat. I see a lot of people in this age range at work and I swear that most of them can't sit still for more than 30 seconds before the phone comes out and they're texting away. Some will even just start texting right in the middle of a conversation.

    There are really two big problems with their behavior. One is that they are extremely impatient and rush through everything, acting like huge spoiled brats in the process ("what do you mean I have to wait two days for this package to get here! I want it nooooooooooowwwwwwwwww!!!!"). The second is that their tiny attention spans and easy distractability are recipes for disaster if they are ever in a potentially hazardous situation that requires their full attention, such as driving or operating equipment or machinery. I think that their parents had an "epic fail" in allowing them to grow up in this manner.

    • by dangitman (862676) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:55PM (#30716396)

      Many of these people born in the 1990s feel that the entire world should instantly respond to them and they get extremely impatient when it doesn't.

      Sounds like how teenagers have always been.

      • That's true and maybe being on the other side of that period of time has given me a little bit of a different perspective. But, and this is a big BUT, I can tell you that several things that some of the teenagers do today would have been completely unacceptable in the past. I don't know how old you are, but if we'd try to do something like text message during class, the cell phone would have been confiscated and we'd have gotten in a lot of trouble (that's what happened when people passed notes or tried to

        • by dangitman (862676)

          I don't know how old you are, but if we'd try to do something like text message during class, the cell phone would have been confiscated and we'd have gotten in a lot of trouble

          I'm in my mid thirties. In the situation you describe, it depended on the teacher and the school. We didn't have mobile phones - but we tended to be quite mischievous, pulling pranks and whatnot. Sometimes we got in a lot of trouble, sometimes not. Sometimes we just broke the teacher's brain.

      • Many of these people born in the 1990s feel that the entire world should instantly respond to them and they get extremely impatient when it doesn't.

        Sounds like how teenagers have always been.

        Yes, but when that behavior holds over into adulthood you have a problem (or rather, people are going to have a big problem with you.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Animats (122034)

        Sounds like how teenagers have always been.

        No, the difference is that there's now a whole world of stuff and people out there that will respond to them instantly. Until recently, you could want that, but unless you were rich enough to have servants and had parents who let you give them orders, you couldn't get that.

        This is a step up from five hours a day passively watching TV.

    • I think this might not be so much a generation difference as an age difference. As you get older, you mellow out. The urgency of your teen years seems silly in retrospect and you realize that not everything has to happen now and that you won't just die if xxx.

      As you get a bit older, and see more then one younger generation, you will realize this. Or if you remember yourself a bit better.

      About the only problem happens if a person doesn't grow up. If someone stays a teen to long, then they run into problem

  • Bogus (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dangitman (862676) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:46PM (#30716304)

    Firstly, I think the designation of birth decades is completely bogus. Somebody who was born in 1980 is likely to have had a very different technology experience to someone born after 1985, but they are all lumped together. Someone born in 1980 would be 18 by the time the internet started to see mass adoption and computers started to become cheap, while someone born in 1985 would only be 13, and have their formative high-school years ahead of them.

    And talking about the tech habits of people born in the 00s? They aren't old enough to have any entrenched tech habits yet! It will be the next decade that shapes them, not the past one.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Generations keep getting shorter and shorter somehow. This is because they're favoured by journalists who can't think of a better way to seem significant, so they have to keep finding more.

    "iGeneration"? "Net Generation"? Come on, give some to...
      - the Latte Generation
      - the 9/11 Generation
      - the Keyless Entry Generation
      - the LOLcat Generation
      - the "Juno" Generation
      - the "Ima Let you Finish" Generation

  • Multi-tasking? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Cowar (1608865) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:48PM (#30716326)
    They're still doing one thing concurrently with X others. Just because they all have iphones and can switch back and forth between facebook, texting, and music doesn't mean that they've magically gained the ability to do 3 things when we just used to "talk on the phone" with the radio on. They're still using the phone.

    Maybe I'm wierd, but if I am talking to someone, it uses 100% of my wetware. I have to turn off the TV, ignore the computer, and stop having IM conversations. However, I can routinely have IRC open with a flowing conversation, several IM windows open, browse the net, read slashdot, and be watching discovery channel, as long as the vocalization center of my brain is not engaged. That may account for the rise in "multi-tasking" seen across generations as speaking is such an inefficient (in terms of resource usage per task) means of conveying information.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:50PM (#30716348) Homepage

    ... would someone just FAX it to me and I'll read it while I'm on the toilet?

  • Calling BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clinko (232501) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:52PM (#30716370) Homepage Journal

    I would like to add this one:

    As a member of the "Net Generation", I feel we have tuned ourselves to calling out Bullshit...
    We have an ability to figure out that some stuff is the result of marketing vs. actual Buzz. That's why fake "viral videos" are so painful to watch.

    Examples:
    - Cyber Monday (We know this WAS fake, but stores use it to market now)
    - MySpace Buzz (We knew this was dead years ago)
    - CNN trying to be "hip" (We saw this from a mile away)
    - The ACTUAL relevancy of Twitter vs. what is said on TV (Regis has a twitter account, it's officially uncool)
    - 3DTV (A new one from this week due to CES. Seriously, I/We're not feeling it)

    Now we can easily add the phrases "iGeneration" and "Net Generation"

    We know these phrases are bullshit, but get ready to hear more about it.

    • Re:Calling BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lgw (121541) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:15PM (#30716566) Journal

      But that's true of every generation. Just as each generation thinks it invented sex, each generation thinks it invented the sophistication to call bullshit to marketing techniques.

      The truth is, pitch tuning is a fine art, and most intelligent people see the bullshit in a sales pitch tuned for someone else. The teenagers wonder why their parents fall for X, while the parents watch their kids fall for why. Urban mocks rural for falling for Z, rural scoffs at urban for falling for W. Everyone thinks they are the one independent thinker in a herd of sheep.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger (8636)

      You do realize, don't you, that you have described a skill that, like being able to tell the difference between the Olsen twins, is completely useless?

      Try instead to learn to tell the difference between marketing and buzz versus information of actual value.

      Oh, and hint: Mary-Kate is usually the one looking directly at the camera.

  • iSwear, iF iHear another God-damn iPhrase iM going to kill everyone of those iFreaks. It's NOT a podcast, it's a SOUND CLIP you DOWNLOADED onto your MP3 PLAYER. People have jumped onto the iBandWagon the same way Businesses started calling all their services 'Solutions'... So yeah, definitely not a member of the iGeneration, oh how I hate that letter.
  • by multiplexo (27356) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:02PM (#30716458) Journal
    I'm 44. I can remember rotary phones, black and white televisions and when it was a big deal when televisions became solid state (with the exception of the CRT) in the mid 1970s, tube testers at grocery and drug stores and going to the library to do research using card catalogs and the Reader's Periodical Guide. Christ, I'm probably going to be processed into Soylent Green soon. Either that or the Sandmen are going to come and get me.
    • Gen X is in its peak earning years. 40 somethings are the people maintaining the infrastructure most of this runs on. Corralling the 20 and 30 something worker-bees. We're the ones that started working for the startups of the 80's after they became big and have the institutional knowledge to do things the correct way. Sure there are plenty of hot shot young-uns, but most of the economy is managed and maintained by people in 40's and 50's.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BrianRoach (614397)

      Wow. Thanks for making me feel old.

      The tube-tester-at-the-grocery part really got me, I totally remember those. Imagine asking someone today to open their television or stereo, remove a component, and go test it.

    • by zogger (617870)

      Try, a wooden box on the wall with the speaker on a cord, the mouth piece on the box, and a crank handle to get the operators attention. That was one granny had that, I remember talking on it. My other granny had an icebox, and some dude would trot down the alley with a horse and ice wagon and come in and put a huge chunk of ice in it. We had a rotary at home though, think it was made out of cast iron.

      We had the first TV in the 'hood, a 9" philco IIRC, and a buncha neighbors and relatives would come over an

  • To say that you can't separate work/school behaviour from leisure behaviour is silly. I can be incredibly focused on singular tasks while working, and be rapidly task switching when that level of attention is not necessary. The article says nothing about the younger generations' ability to focus on work/school other than a supposition at the end based on their leisure time activites.

    For whatever reason, I'm a "Net generation" that ... kept up with the times, I guess. I hate the phone (I think I have 8000 r

  • For the last 1000 years old farts like myself have had there worries about the youngsters and new technology. Please stop the worries, there is no need to be worried about our fine young generation. Every generation will go one step further up the evolution ladder, and old farts like my self should stop the we-are-so-worried-because-they-do-things-differently crap and go back to our chess boards, old Spiderman magazines or Commodore 64 emulators and just STFU.
  • Another difference that I've noticed is that they changes accounts far more frequently than I do. I have had the same email address for 10 years. My young friends are constantly changing the email addresses and IM names.

    LK

  • ... 'They'll want their teachers and professors to respond to them immediately, and they will expect instantaneous access to everyone, because after all, that is the experience they have growing up,' says Rosen."

    Translation: They're a bunch of spoiled little brat.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @08:13PM (#30718596)
    Basically he's observed his family members (and some friends children) and assumed therefore that every child does or will behave like that.

    I've got to say, this sort of behaviour just reinforces the common view of psychology as mostly worthless generalisations and unsupported theory.

    WHERE ARE THE NUMBERS?
    Let's see a proper study, using statistically valid numbers of subjects - taken from all races, creeds, famiily backgrounds and nationalities. Then there's be something worth discussing. Until then this is just a "aren't my children are wonderful" monolog. Boring.

  • by martijnd (148684) on Monday January 11, 2010 @02:40AM (#30720432)

    'They'll want their teachers and professors to respond to them immediately, and they will expect instantaneous access to everyone, because after all, that is the experience they have growing up,' says Rosen."

    Solution (and I am going to patent this as a business method) : the holding pattern interface

    If an iGeneration member wants to communicate with an oldGeneration member ; they will receive an instant automated reply, followed by automated "i am working on it" reponses until the oldGeneration member finds time to get around to it.

    "Hi [sibling] great to hear from you, busy doing a million things, will talk to you soon" ...
    ".. just let you know that I haven't forgotten about [thing] will talk to you later"

    Customizable, 9000 canned responses (including "I am about to land in Hawaii.. waiting for signal") in 99 different languages.

    Available sometime in the future at iHoldingPattern.com

    Just like real life.

    (Any parent knows that children want everything NOW, whereas us "grownups" try to juggle these demands in between the really important things. Like catching some TV)

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