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You’ve seen the situation. Your mum can’t set a program to record a show on television, but your 15-year-old nephew can assemble a digital stereo system.

On the surface, the evidence suggests that the young are smarter with technology and more flexible towards it. However, that’s not really right. In just another decade, little Timmy won’t be any better with new technology than his great-aunt.

It isn’t a matter of the young being flexible or smart or having a natural knack for technology. It’s about exposure. From the time we start to become truly aware of the things in the world around us, all those things are roughly equal.

Your five-year-old sees digital video-recorders, smart-phones, PDAs, game-consoles, computers, Instant-Messaging, the World-Wide-Web and more as a simple fact of life, along with cars, telephones, television, action-figures and playing-cards.

As they grow and adjust and learn about the world around them, they see all of these things as ‘normal’. Just another part of the world.

You and I have had many of these things enter our lives much later. They’re new, and novel, and maybe we didn’t know at first how these would integrate into our lives. The young see them as already a part of life, and integrate laptops into their day-to-day experiences as readily as as they do Barbie.

Of course, the time will come when the young become adults, and newer technology enters their own lives, and they will be no more nor less certain about how new and alien technology fits into their lives than their parents are. Some of them (like some of us) will be naturally adept at new gizmos, and others will be baffled or diffident, each according to their nature.

If young people are flexible and adaptable around technology, it’s only because they’ve been exposed to it for most of their lives.



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