Depending on what you read, you could be mistaken for thinking that our early teenagers are in fact at the tail of Gen Y. But now that they have declared Generation Z, Man-Child and his twin brother Teen-Child are actually the forerunners of this new generation. Gen Z is basically the internet generation, born post 1995. They have grown up in a digital age, so everything about it is second nature.
Like all Gen Z-ers, my boys are the masters at multi-tasking – they can listen to their iPods, whilst watching TV, being on Facebook or downloading music from Limewire, whilst also APPARENTLY doing their homework. Hence the reason the laptops have now been banned Monday to Thursday during the school term – so that homework has the focus it needs. The only thing they don’t seem to be able to include in their multi-tasking is picking up their school uniforms off the bedroom floor, or putting their empty plates and cups in the dishwasher (or even within 10 feet of the kitchen)!!!
For Gen Z, the art of communication is quite different to our generation (that would be Gen X – for those of us who scraped in). As a teenager I remember spending all my time on the phone, yes the landline, you know, home phone, cheap calls, you actually talk into it, and have an interactive two-way exchange, using the English language. As an aside – just for your own amusement, ask a teenager what a landline is – you’d be surprised how many of them don’t know! But then I guess they also don’t know what an LP is either do they!!!
Today, my boys talk via Skype or Facebook chat (MSN is a thing of the past for them) or via text. They will only use the landline if their credit is out on their mobiles. And god forbid they would ring someone else on their landline, no they persist in using the home phone to call their friends mobiles, at approx. $1 per minute. I am constantly at pains to point out that landline calls are WAY cheaper but when you’re not paying the bills who cares right?
Maybe I could make them pay the home phone bill including calls to mobiles? But as I already make them pay for their own mobile phone credit (yes another total injustice by Mother of a Man-Child) I hope my point is made.
Anyway, back to communication – I do wonder with the language of texting that seems to pervade all their “conversations”, whether we are creating a generation that cannot actually hold down a real, face-to-face conversation with another human being? Or is it merely that the medium has changed? Chat via Facebook or MSN is still an interactive conversation – it’s just not spoken is it? In fairness Skype is actually a next generation form of interactive communication, in so far as it includes video, but I actually like my friends not being able to watch me wander around the house doing chores whilst they talk to me, and I listen intently (really I do).
I am trying desperately not to feel like an older generation that doesn’t understand a younger one. After all I was on Facebook long before my kids, and MSN. That’s what happens when you work in the digital market. But I do expect that over time their use of technology will overtake me in leaps and bounds. I just hope that their ability to speak in comprehensible English to their parents will remain for some time to come.