Ever had a song you just can’t get out of your head? Maybe a driving beat that has you hynoptised, or a dancey rhythm you can’t stop moving to, perhaps a catchy lyric that’s always on your lips. Let me share something with you.
I like all types of music genres, so long as there is something that hooks me, I don’t really care what the genre is, from pop to jazz, doesn’t really matter. There‘s a song that’s always stuck with me from back in the day when I was but a sprightly young kid with the world at my feet, or so I thought. I loved this song because it spoke to how I felt at the time, spoke for a lot of youngsters back then, it was like a proper anthem for all of us. Sit back and enjoy your Aperitif as Pete Townshend and the boys from The Who rock you to their signature tune “My Generation”.
People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
Why don’t you all f-fade away
Don’t try to dig what we all s-s-s-say
I’m not trying to ’cause a big s-s-sensation
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation
This is my generation, baby
Why don’t you all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to d-dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to ’cause a b-big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
My my my generation…
The Who made it clear in no uncertain terms they did not want oldsters meddling in their affairs. Now as one of those oldsters, nothing makes me more aware of that generation gap than when it comes to technology, with one generation seen as a “digital native” while the other is more akin to an immigrant or even an alien, depending on the stage of adulthood.
If we take the common use of cell phones as an example, we can begin to see the marked difference. Cell phones are predominantly the device most used by all generations for interpersonal communication, but the way they are used varies significantly between the generations. The top ten functions youngsters use their cell phones for probably looks something like this:
- Making calls
- taking photos
- going online
- instant messaging/whats’app
- playing games
- listening to music
- video and audio recording
- watching videos
On the other hand, while this is going on and progressively so according to age, adults restrict use of cell phones to far fewer activities. Interestingly, research has found that apart from making calls, the one cell phone activity that transcends age is taking photos, with adults just as likely as youngsters to use their phone-camera. However, and this is important, the type of photos taken differs, with youngsters clicking more selfies than adults. What’s more, the nature of those selfies includes sexting – the act of taking sexualised pictures with the intent to send to an eager recipient – one of the fastest growing internet safety concerns. Much more on this in a later post.
So are you old enough to remember the 1960s? I was part of that generation and though poignantly The Who’s drummer Keith Moon died long before he got old, I’m thankful that I’m still here. We actually believed we were revolutionary and perhaps we were. We were cutting edge, no one could touch us and no one got even close to understanding us. I doubt that we really understood each other and we certainly weren’t going to listen to what “oldsters” had to say. After all, this was my my generation, baby!
A few decades on from the 1960s and into a new century and a new millennium, we pretty much have that same generation, popularly known as the Baby-boomers, to thank for the variety of new developments globally. Much of what you see in the world today is sown from the seeds of that stubborn, liberated, experimental, innovative, revolutionary generation. And that of course includes the electronic devices we so love to use and to pass so freely over to our children. One interesting fact worth noting emerges when we look at four of the leading star players in the development of these new and exciting technologies.
The first is Steve Jobs, who unfortunately died in 2011. Jobs was chief executive and co-founder of computer giant Apple, one of the two early runners in home computing. After leaving Apple he bought The Graphics Group, which became Pixar and achieved global popularity in producing animated feature films. Without Steve Jobs on board, Apple lost its way but managed to save itself by buying out Steve Jobs’ company and taking him back as CEO, out of which came the iMac and the iPod. Jobs was a genuine giant of technology.
Next we come to Bill Gates, with whom I am sure we are all very familiar. Gates is joint founder of the world’s biggest software company Microsoft, and it is the way he brought together the concept of technology and business that is largely responsible for making technology widely available to all of us. He did this by getting Microsoft software pre-installed on most computers before leaving the factory, making Microsoft the world’s largest software company and turned Bill Gates into one of the world’s richest men.
Third is Tim Berners-Lee. We all love blogging, either reading or writing and I’m only too pleased to have you reading my blogpost, but all of us bloggers, together with Google and all the other search engines have one man to thank for all this. It was Tim Berners-Lee’s brainchild to combine the internet with another concept called hypertext and the worldwide web was born, the first website going online on 6 August 1991. An interesting twist to all this is that Berners-Lee made his ideas available freely, he had no patent and claimed no royalties. One could say this unfortunately had a negative impact in that if he had patented it and claimed royalties, perhaps it may have been subject to more rules and regulations, and perhaps its safe use would not now be a major concern globally. We will never know.
Why is the fact that James Gosling was born in 1955 so important? Well, so too was Steve Jobs. And so too was Bill Gates. And so too was Tim Berners-Lee. Isn’t that interesting?
The year 1955 can almost be pinpointed as the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in the West, what could be termed the start of the modern era. The events occurring in that watershed year are too numerous to mention but four key occurrences relevant to our discussion would be:
- The first McDonalds fast food restaurant was opened
- The first Coca Cola was sold in cans, before then it was all bottles
- The first Walt Disney theme park was opened
- The Mickey Mouse club was launched
Why are these so relevant? These events were clearly aimed at the young and the young at heart, echoing the fact that with the modern era came new freedoms for young people that saw them begin to push for more independence and a greater say in how they ran their lives. That marked the beginning of an identifiable generation gap with less parental control, culminating10 years later in 1965 with The Who’s anthem to the young, My Generation. It is hardly surprising to find that the four stalwarts of new technology were born in 1955, the year that spawned the teenage revolution, as never is that gap more evident than in the field of technology.
When it comes to the generation gap and technology, there’s a conundrum. We oldsters, the Baby-boomers born between 1946 and 1964, actually developed the technology. Generation X, 1965 – 1980, then came along and this group has actually been on the internet longer than their children the Millennials, 1977 – 1994 and the new Millennials, 1981 into the new Millennium. Certainly it was the Boomers who taught Generation X most of what they know, but that’s where the expertise ended. Things move so fast in technology that youngsters were very quickly able to turn the tables and there’s no doubt it is they who are the experts, not just as users, but on the cutting edge of development. So here’s the conundrum. If the younger generation are the experts when it comes to technology and the internet, how then can we oldsters presume to teach them anything about internet safety? After all, they already know more than we do and they have likewise made it patently clear our voice is not needed. Yet teach them we must.
Our children have grown up with the internet and are now so accustomed to using it, to them it is as natural as us having the proverbial cup of tea. And therein lies the danger… Our children live in a culture of sharing that has totally changed the way they look at privacy. They are so familiar with internet technologies that for them, privacy has little or no value. They easily forget that with everyone now connected, anything created online can be copied, pasted, and sent to thousands of people with just one click. Privacy should therefore mean a whole lot more than simply guarding personal or private information. We all have a digital footprint, which we ourselves generate from our online behaviour and that has serious implications for our reputations, safety and security, both on and offline. We fail our children if we fail to imprint that on their brains.
I’ve given you rather a lot to consider in today’s blogpost, so time to take it easy with a nice cup of coffee and try this internet safety quiz. The first four questions relate specifically to you and all questions have either a yes or no answer, see how you get on and I’ll give you the answers next time.
- When you log on to the Internet, you always use some kind of alias or nickname
- The name of your computer or workstation is always your actual name
- When you shop online, you always check the security of the website before you enter personal and credit card information
- When your children surf on the Internet you have a filter in place to protect them from potential predators
- It is OK to give your credit card information in an e-mail if the store you were shopping at online asks for it again
- It is all right to give your name, address and birth date when registering to use a Web site online
- When you use chat rooms, it is OK to give private information as long as it is within a private chat room
- It is OK to give out your Social Security number when you are on the Internet. Everyone who uses the Internet has access to it anyway
- Blogging is a good way to voice my opinion and I don’t have to use my real name
- It is OK to post family pictures on the Internet so friends and family can view them