It struck me for the first time the day I was searching frantically for my missing handbag (read ‘stolen’) and my then 7-year old son’s reaction was to immediately sit down with my laptop and much to my annoyance, he actually googled, ‘pictures of people who steal purses’. Later that night, I took a picture of the screen that was still open and it actually made me smile (in a still-annoyed sort of way, yes). He literally thought that the internet was the answer to my dilemma. But then again, you cannot really blame him. He has seen me search for questions in cyberspace and sometimes we use the internet together to search for interesting concepts we come along. Since I run the risk of my brother reading this blog post as well, I would like to add that we have only recently started using Bing, the decision engine which is far more useful! But the fact remains that at age 7 my son thought that the internet or technology was invincible. Ouch.
There is a very interesting article that I recently read on the ‘children of cyberspace’ about today’s children and how the emerging technology is shaping their views of the world and how different their perceptions would be from not only their parents but also perhaps their own elder siblings, given the lightening speed with which technology is catching pace. Is it any wonder then that my 2-year old son is far more at easy with my cellphone (a blackberry) than I was six months back when I had just bought it. The same article also brings forward a very interesting opinion, that today’s iGeneration as it calls them, are so reliant on ‘instant messaging’ that they will grow up to expect an ‘instant response’ from anyone they communicate with and will not have the patience for anything else. The ability to multitask at a far greater extent than their elders is a definite trademark for this new generation but the question of ‘concentration’ and ability to ‘focus’ on the task at hand is a big question mark. The current generation that is growing up in a world of ‘real’ and ‘online friends’ and has somewhat ‘relaxed notions of privacy’ as compared to their predecessors does raise eye brows especially those amongst us who are still not social media savvy. While it is natural for one generation to denounce the others and only think of their time as ‘the best ever’ (we all have heard similar stories from our grandparents and parents of ‘their times’) but this issue definitely needs some food for thought.
This is a generation which is being brought up by learning to say the Alphabet from the Sesame Street DVDs to interactive digital books. If you happen to sit in a group of elementary school kids, especially boys, you will only hear them talk of their gadgets: game boys, play station, Nintendo, the PSP and a gazillion collection of their associated cartridges and DVDs! Parents often complain the lack of ‘physical exercise’ for their children and that ‘they are always stuck to the TV screens’. Our children have so many choices on the television, with each programme competing to be more ‘violent’ in content than the other. This generation has so many choices around them that they also get ‘bored’ easily! I was reading this article by a friend on her facebook profile of how those of us born in the 70s and 80s enjoyed a ‘non-digital’ childhood with lots of playing outside in the streets with no fears that are rampant in today’s security environment. While all of us enjoyed the article as a trip down the memory lane, it did make me think once of what our children would remember as their childhood activities … I say this because I see the children’s interest fast changing pace with the changing pace of a new face of a fancier gadget every six months. Would they remember their childhood with the same passion that we do ours? Would they cherish these memories with the same longing we do? And this is a question that I leave to you, my dear reader.