Larry D. Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, has been studying this group. While Rosen has studied the impact of technology on people for 20 years, he specializes in the effects of technology on kids and parents. He is currently working on a book, "Me, MySpace and I," where he examines the differences and similarities among the generations and how they can work together.
In his book, he defines what he calls the Net generation, post-Generation X, as children and young adults born in the 1980s and '90s, parented by the baby boomers. The generations differ on numerous levels, including how they communicate and how they get a job done, according to Rosen.
In an interview with CNET News.com, Rosen reflected on the Net generation.
Q: You're about to publish a new book. Tell us more about it.
Rosen: It looks at the positive impacts and what parents can do to enhance the positiveness of MySpace and other social networks. The book is written primarily for people who need to deal with the Net generation kids on a daily basis. That includes parents, school educators and bosses who are now dealing with the Net Gen entering the workplace. It's also geared toward the professionals, because it's full of research about these kids, how they are, and what they do. What I'm telling them is to find the best use of technology for the kids to help them make the most out of it and to grow emotionally healthy, which we know they can. The goal is not to yank them off the computer and pull the plug, but to figure out how to help them grow up as good human beings, while they get to use their technology and to multitask.
In your book you're focusing mainly on the generation commonly called Generation Y. You're talking about the Net and MySpace generation. What's your definition?
Rosen: Everybody has a name for this new generation of kids born in the '80s and '90s. I call it the Net generation. Other people call it Generation M for multitasking or for media. Some people call it Generation Y, which I never quite understood...What I read was they call it that because this is a generation that they think asks "Why?" a lot. Other people call it the ADHD generation because these kids show the signs of having Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, but that's also not true. I prefer the "Net generation" because this is a generation of kids, children, teens and young adults who have known no other world than that with complete technology, Internet, text messaging, cell phones and video games, etc.
Given that somewhere over 50 percent of these kids are on MySpace, I think of the MySpace generation as a subcategory. You might even want to call them the All Technology generation.
What defines the All Technology generation, according to you?
Rosen: This is a generation of kids, teens and young adults who have been raised from the very beginning immersed in technology. Most of them know no other world, no world that doesn't include the Internet. They are defined by their reliance on technology, their use of technology, and particularly their propensity for multitasking technologically; they are also defined by the fact that they use a variety of media to communicate with the world, with their friends and even in the business world. Those kinds of communication technologies are different than the ones that previous generations are used to.
They don't use technology, it simply is. It's the main focus of their life. See, that's the difference. A baby boomer and even a Gen X would say, "Well, I use the Internet" or "I use my cell phone a lot" or "I text message" and so on. Gen X learned how to use technology, whereas the Net Gen kids were raised steeped in technology and they don't use it, it just simply is.
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