Sunday, June 6, 2010

The iGeneration

The iGeneration.  The idea makes me laugh a little.  It is supposed to be today's young people, but it seems to span a larger group as I am the proud owner of a iMac computer, an iPod, and an iPad - all of which I can make do things that the teenagers in my classroom have no clue how to perform; I seem to be more a part of the iGeneration, but I'm surely too old.

I am part of Generation X. The group of people born after the baby boomers decided to stop procreating, or at least got too old to procreate.  We span the time range as early as 1966 and come to a screeching halt in 1977; I barely make the cut at the tail end with a 1976 arrival on the planet.  We grew up during the final years of the Vietnam War, we are linked to Presidents such as Regan or the first Bush in the White House.  We can recall the Cold War, the end of the Berlin Wall, and the major recession of the 1980's financial fall.  Personally, I remember when we got cable TV, when there was a white box with all the numbers and a super long cord that connected to the behemoth television that sat on the floor of my parent's home before remote controls.  And I remember I spent time running the little notch as fast as I could up and down the lane of numbers, much to my parents (mostly my father's) dismay.  I remember getting our first home computer and that we were not allowed to touch the telephone if my dad was connected because it would disrupt what we now know as the World Wide Web.  I also remember accidentally picking up the phone and then lying like crazy when he would holler down the hallway, "who picked up that phone!?!"  Also, mind you, it was a phone with a 100 foot twirly cord that you could literally walk all over the house with - the beginning of mobile gabbing, if you will.

I remember when the Challenger fell out of the sky and I cried.  I didn't know those people, I just knew they were now dead in what was supposed to be an advancement of science and it scared me.  I know about the Iran/Contra Affair and Desert Storm.  I can still remember sitting in my middle school Geography class with Mr. Matthews talking to a friend about how the first shots were fired on her birthday - a date I will always remember because of its historical significance.  I remember I was disconnected from the war in a very real way as the Internet was not part of my life yet and I was still typing computer programs into a DOS: menu making little electronic looking robots dance on the screen in Computer Applications with Mr. Barrientes. 

And my hair - OH MY HAIR!  What a monstrosity that was!  Spiral curly perms with bangs that easily stood 3" tall - my own personal wall of China.  I am certain that the amount of Aqua Net Hairspray that was used in the preservation of 80's hair is the sole reason for the depletion in the Ozone layer.  I try not to use any hairspray at all these days, my effort to make-up for what I destroyed in my youth.  I remember Cyndi Lauper and the rise of Madonna.  I remember punk, techo, and the 80's music world of synthesizers.  I remember when MTV was actually music television and I watched it all the time.  I remember learning the dance moves to Beat It and Thriller; both of which I still know.  I remember new wave music, the rise of gangsta rap, and the emerging of a hip-hop culture.  And I remember these things because I was a part of it, I lived it, I was there in the thick of it because if you wanted to know what was going on in the world, you had to be.

But now.  Now, it's just a click away on the computer screen.  The technology is amazing and growing more and more everyday to the point where an entire generation has been defined by it.  A recent report done on USA Today noted the current young movement to be deemed as the "iGeneration" replacing the Millenials as the youngest kids on the block.  The iGeneration is tech-savvy and seems to inherently have the DNA to be so.  My own son, at 6-years-old, can rock an iPod or an iPad with the best of them.  I will never forget the day he asked my husband, "Daddy - can you download my movie to the iPod so I can watch it on the plane?"  My husband and I just looked at each other both thinking the same thing, that sentence was completely normal for him.  This is a generation that has known nothing but instant gratification, everything at their finger tips...this begs the question:  Is this a good thing?

According to the author of Me, MySpace and I: Parenting the Net Generation (Dr. Larry D. Rosen), the iGeneration is defined by several characteristics most notably including: 
•Early introduction to technology
•Adeptness at multitasking
•Desire for immediacy
•Ability to use technology to create a vast array of "content" me, the biggest red flag is idea #3 on the above list - Desire for Immediacy.  The days of working hard for a payout in the future seem to be gone with this group of young people.   While there are still some that are happy to read a book, this is becoming less and less and often when they can't have something RIGHT NOW, tempers ensue over issues I really didn't view as all that upsetting.  I've watched completely rational children lose their minds over their inability to get an internet signal, and taking their cell phone from them is apparently a sentence to Social is devastating.

I don't spend a lot of time infringing upon their need for constant communication with the rest of the world mostly because I have fallen victim myself.  As mentioned before, I own all the tools to be a part of their team.  I chat instantly online with friends and family at the touch of a button.   I've adapted quickly to having this amount of information at my fingertips and I admit, it's nice, very nice.   But I wonder, could they adapt so well back to a time where it wasn't all right there, back to my childhood or my teen years when library books were required for research; I assume they could not just as I don't want to learn to churn butter or hand-wash my clothes.  It seems much easier to go forward than backward and while there is balance to both generational stand-points I fear the day when a blackout happens or the satellites go down and our planet is filled with raging teens that can't update their Facebook status every 5 minutes...what ever will we do?  I don't want to hand-wash my clothes, but rest assured, I know how because I was taught to learn in my own time, not in internet time.

Yet, as of right now, the iGeneration prevails and they are the future of what will come, in fact, they are the now.  And even though I'm certainly old enough to be the mother of this group of children, I join them happily in the technology that is inherently a part of who they are.   I mean, the old adage certainly rings true right now...If you can't beat 'em, join em' and learn to text (I, of course, added the last little bit).


  1. Very Well thought out.. I agree right now is going to be a problem. But I suppose my generation had the same look form my parents generation. The world seems to travel on some how the next generation has to find its way to be different. Will elevator music become hip hop.. But then John phillip Sousa was the rock music of his generation.

  2. I hope the idea that you have to work hard for your own success still stays afloat no matter what. I am holding out hope for that because it IS a powerful idea, instant gratification or no :) Anyway, I think when these kids grow up many of them might come to the conclusion that hard work pays off when they see it working?? (what can I say, I am an optimist!)