Monday, November 24, 2008

Are we the dumbest generation of them all?

After watching the video of “The Dumbest Generation” I became a little upset. Our generation has been degraded based on our internet use and its impact on our society. In support of our generation the MacArthur Foundation has finally completed their research. The foundation conducted over 5,000 observation hours, nearly 700 interviews (both individual and focus groups), diary studies, 10,000 social networking profiles, and more. Overall, their conclusion was that, “at worst, the Internet generally enables the same old social interactions in a new medium; at its best, however, it enables them to participate in something close to a meritocracy, where their age isn't a concern.”

The study was broken down into two different categories: normal social interactions and focused internet socializing.

Over the year’s texting, emailing, and chatting have become the online norms. Our generation has grown up and has been very fluent in using the internet. To elaborate on the author’s first point, kids today use the internet as an additional feature to stay in contact. It has also been shown that the majority of kids are using these social networking sites as a means of continuing their existing relationships. Thanks to the technology boom, you are always able to be in contact with your friends.

The internet has also been used to narrow a child’s interest into a specific niche. "Online groups enable youth to connect to peers who share specialized and niche interests of various kinds, whether that is online gaming, creative writing, video editing, or other artistic endeavors," the report notes. This goes along with the long tail theory we learned a couple weeks ago. If you are not looking for a mainstream interest, then the internet is the place to find a specific topic not discussed on the front page of a website. These specialized sites also allow the child to distribute their work online and gain experience and reputation.

In both friendship-driven and interest-driven online activity, youth create and navigate new forms of expression and rules for social behavior. Though someone may just be messing around it is said that they are learning new forms of technical and media literacy. Children are even able to sharpen their typing skills just by writing an email.

With these new forms of online socializing parents have no need to worry, but in the same sense they should also attempt to monitor their young ones. Parents can aide their children finding their specialized interests and make sure that they are age appropriate.

Growing up in the digital age has been a blessing. You are able to attain information at much quicker rates than having to go to the library and rent countless numbers of books. I feel that as long as the parents play a role in helping to balance their child’s “online time” with other forms of recreational learning there should not be a problem. It will be interesting to see what forms of communication the next generation will use.

Link to the MacArthur Foundation report

No comments: