Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: GenTech: Are they any different then the Babyboomers?


When I was a teenager, a junior or senior in high school, I took a typing class so that I might have a bit of an edge in the business world after graduation. Back in the 20th century, we learned such things on typewriters. For those youngsters that read this, if you look up typewriter at you will find: “A writing machine that produces characters similar to typeset print by means of a manually operated keyboard that actuates a set of raised types, which strike the paper through an inked ribbon.” It actually was fairly efficient – you created your printed copy instantly, but correcting mistakes was a chore, and getting multiple copies was generally pretty messy (another word to look up; Carbon paper).

I was in Subway the other day ordering lunch when I heard the familiar Beep Beep of a cell phone. The young lady (about 16 years old) in front of me looked at her cell phone she had apparently received a text message. When she started to reply to the text received I was stunned. She could “type” as quick, or quicker, than I can, but with only her two thumbs! I wasn't too surprised when I later heard news reports about how there are now braces that have been developed because of this repetitive type of motion.

Do they teach text messaging in school these days? No, of course not; most schools don’t even allow cell phones to be used on campus (not yet anyway). We are entering an age where our children are more tech savvy then their parents. Of course this is not unusual when we consider Moore’s Law. Gordon Moore founded Intel in 1968, but it was in 1965, Moore observed that micro-chip development was doubling itself on an annual basis. What was then dubbed Moore’s law has proven itself correct time after time as we can barely keep up with the development of our technology. It’s no wonder our teens are more savvy then their older generations. had an interesting survey where the results were in every area of popular electronic devices, with the exception of cell phones, our teens possessed the market share of them. Not only that our 13 year olds are even more savvy then their 16 year old siblings!

What does all this mean? Well, we really don’t know what it means in the long run. Projections have been made that by 2019, the PC will be unseen. It will be embedded in our furniture, and even in our bodies. The keyboard will be gone, with a voice interface in its place. It is our GenTech generation that will bring this about.

CBS has a very interesting article on this subject. But the answers (even in that article) are not there. Moore’s law of smaller and better every year is making it more and more difficult for ethics to keep up. Our kids rush home from school, all the while texting their friends in the car only to rush to the computer once home and log onto MySpace or some Instant Messaging program to communicate with friends even more. But is it only friends they communicate with. No, it is well known the pitfalls of the cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking. CBS reports; “There's no question that the Web can be dangerous. The Justice Department boosted funding for its 7-year-old Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) program from $2.4 million in 1998 to $14.5 million this year. ICAC-related arrests tripled from 564 in 2003 to 1,597 in 2005”.

Teenage development is the stage where our kids are seeking independence from their ‘parental units’ (as they call us). The internet and cyber space is a place where they feel they can achieve this. Technology as been doing this from the beginning. The invention of television kept kids inside "glued to the tube", and when Hi-Fi’s came out in the 50’s, teenagers were booming music everywhere to their parents chagrin. The issues seem to be the same, it’s just that the technology is different, and granted more powerful.

Do we limit our teens use of technology? I don’t think so. To do so, may very well be putting them at a distinct future disadvantage. We as parents (as always) simply need to be aware, not only of the dangers of this ‘brave new world’, but also how it impacts our children emotionally. Watch for signs of depression perhaps motivated from isolation or cyber bullying. Instruct your child vigilantly about sharing too much information, because while the internet may seem anonymous, it clearly is not.
Then, “hpy txtn lol”