Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

The new Generation Gap

These kids today! They’re illiterate (how else do you explain ‘texting’?). They have no sense of shame (they post their diary, and their phone numbers, for the world to see). They all want to be famous.. just like Paris Hilton. They “hook up” by answering anonymous, texted come-ons, blue-toothed from across the room. Everyone under the age of 25 has at least one online “profile” — an All About Me webpage — and are proud of the number of their virtual friends. They aren’t in the slightest bit bothered by the fact that there’s surveillance cameras everywhere, but seem to relish the idea of “being on TV”.
And these kids have the attention span of a flea.

Ah! Don’t you just love blanket-statement generalizations?!
But seriously– there is a difference between those of us ‘older’ folks (say.. older than 27) and the younger set (the “kids today”).. a true Generation Gap.

Sure, us ‘older’ folks are on the Web, and we spend a fair amount of time there. But we (generally speaking) use it like a public library, and because e-mail is a lot cheaper than snail-mail, we use the Internet to send letters. Here’s a test:
* Do you have a Profile on Facebook and do you update it several times a week? If you answered “no”, the odds are good you’re 26 or older (or, you’re younger, but Facebook is so ‘yesterday’ that you’ve moved on to a trendier site).
* Have you ever shunned a website because it was getting flamed on all the right blogs? (There’s a hidden test in there.. don’t know what ‘flamed’ is?)
* Did you have to stop and think what ROTFLOL means?
* Are you concerned about your privacy? (or, more accurately, do you still think it exists?)
* Do you enjoy “reality” television?

I think the defining factor that determines which side of the gap you’re on is– how old were you when you  first used a computer.
I am an absolute dinosaur. I was already out of High School when the first truly popular personal computer (Apple’s Macintosh, 1984) hit the scene. When I was in my formative years, there simply weren’t traffic cams on every corner (or anywhere else); girls guarded their diaries with their lives; people wrote in complete sentences, and looked upon those of us with poor grammar skills as “low-bred”; Authority had no idea who I was unless they talked to me (or me to them); if you called someone a friend, you (probably) had been inside their home…
It was a different world… a pre-Internet world.

For those born after 1984, you have probably always had a computer in your home; and by the time you were old enough to appreciate telephones, you could carry one in your pocket. About that same time, everyone had the Internet, and Yahoo had made it simple. You were probably typing before you made your first letter with a crayon.
You realize privacy is an illusion, so you’ve taken control. All the world’s your stage.

…I don’t really know where I’m going with all this: to say, “the Internet has changed everything” is, well, um, stating the obvious. I guess, maybe, I’m just puzzled by some of what I see (and, maybe, I just woke up feeling “old” today…). I lament the erosion of privacy that technology has wrought (hey, I admitted I was a dinosaur!), and cameras everywhere bothers me; the chips (digital snitches) in my car bothers me; the fact that someone can use the information posted on the Web to assume someone else’s identity bothers me..
Sorry. I’ll feel better soon.

Today’s free link: There’s an article by Emily Nussbaum; Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy (subtitled “Say Everything”) that I came across that takes a real look at this.. phenomenon. An excellent example of real reporting, and a good read. Take a look-see, and let me know what you think.

***Folks, the little Search window on this site is not how you ask me questions (it searches past articles for the keywords you enter). Use the the Comments link at the bottom of this page. It is found next to the “Categories” and “Tags” (and usually says, “No comments”).

[Update 3/22: Newsweek just published a good article on this that is worth a read– The Look at Me Generation.]

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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March 3, 2008 - Posted by | advice, computers, kids and the Internet, PC, privacy, tech, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I’m Not completly sold on the idea that says that being younger means your not interested in your privacy. I’m 23 years old and I don’t have a MySpace or Facebook account, I have my own blog at and if I have some misspelling is because English is not my first language.


    Comment by mividaendigital | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. Well I, for one, am glad to hear it…and I see we have similar interests, too.


    Comment by techpaul | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. The things you say are true for some “young” people but certainly not all. (talk about stating the obvious)

    I’m 21 and I shiver at the thought of maintaining a personal blog.

    I think most “younger” people aren’t really aware that they are giving up their privacy. They aren’t aware that facebook owns everything they type and sell it.

    The never heard google syndications, …

    This bothers me alot.

    In the computers classes I had in high school, the only things we learned in the computer classes is how to use office programs, how to use frontpage and how to run a virus scan. Privacy, making sure you are anonymous weren’t even mentioned.


    Comment by linuxowns | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  4. Linuxowns–
    You raise an excellent point in that, with children getting online at a younger and younger age.. and schools not teaching them any security awareness.. it is vitally important that someone steps in and educates them to the dangers. (I read somewhere that 13 is roughly when they start MySpace-ing/Facebook-ing/etc.)
    That someone has to be the parents.. and it wouldn’t hurt if the schools were to suppliment that education either.
    If you’re a parent, you might want to take a look at my series “Steps you can take to protect your kids from the Web

    Here’s a question for you: how old should a child be before they’re allowed on the Internet (unsupervised)?


    Comment by techpaul | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  5. Here’s a question for you: how old should a child be before they’re allowed on the Internet (unsupervised)?

    That depends (how did you raise them, trust, …)

    But if I were to put a number on it, I would say 15-16.

    At that age children should be able to know what they are doing and what the effects of their actions are.


    Comment by linuxowns | March 4, 2008 | Reply

  6. Linuxowns–
    My initial reaction was, “that sounds fairly reasonable”. But then I thought about all the online gaming.. and smart phones, and realized that kids are gaming and texting much younger than that (for better or worse).
    I reached WAY back into my memory and rated my responsibility and maturity at 15/16 (not very high). At that age, all I could think about was getting my Drivers License…

    Back in my day, they taught Drivers Ed in the schools (and had things called “simulators”) as part of the regular curriculum. And of course, you had to go to the DMV and get tested (for safety and knowledge of the rules) before we were allowed onto the roads as licensed drivers.
    Maybe we need something like Internet Ed, and a “surfer’s license”…
    And your license would be like a Smart Card/Digital Certificate, giving you an ID, encryption/digital signing/etc…

    Nah. Fergit I said that. Last thing we need is another Bureau!


    Comment by techpaul | March 4, 2008 | Reply

  7. I guess the thing that we all have to remember as members of the older generation is that we enabled their lifestyle and access to cyberspace so we also have to take some responsibility for what our children do, however this is two edged, when I find a member of the Me generation happily running down the apparent lack of tech savvy in the older generations (crusty old dinosaurs) I do take the time to remind them of the facts of my opening statment and that we have been on the learning curve a hell of a lot longer than them, so what if our interests dont lean toward social networking. Thanks for the opportunity to vent my spleen.

    Please note: I did not need to use spell check to for this reply.


    Comment by MiltfromOz | March 5, 2008 | Reply

  8. MiltfromOz–
    It is a youth culture.

    You are correct in that we “older” types built the Web (and brought it into our homes), but the “young” crowd is also correct in pointing out that it was “20-Somethings” who started Yahoo, and Google, and YouTube, and… Microsoft, and Apple…

    Either way, you said it well (and in complete sentences).
    No SpellCheck? Come on!


    Comment by techpaul | March 5, 2008 | Reply

  9. Not only do they try to rip you off, they send your email out and you get a ton of junk mail.


    Comment by Arreknear | March 7, 2008 | Reply

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