Tech-induced mini generation gaps?

That’s what the New York Times’s Brad Stone has noticed, citing examples like his only-just-verbal 2-year-old calling his Kindle – a device he says he’s not completely sold on – “Daddy’s book.” But even 9- or 10-year-olds wouldn’t call it that – it wasn’t ubiquitous enough when they were “growing up.” Now all sorts of Kindle-like handheld readers are coming out. They – the Alex, the Que proReader, the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid, the tablet Apple’s supposed to announce soon, and the “smartbooks” aimed at teens I blogged about earlier – were all over the Consumer Electronics Show floor in Las Vegas this past week, Stone and Nick Bilton report in another article. But, to the generational question, I wouldn’t call them mini generations just because the term itself suggests solid starts, stops, and gaps that I’m not seeing, even at my house, with five years between two teenage and almost-teenage kids. The whole construct doesn’t allow for all the individuality and diversity so evident in young people’s (and everybody’s) use of new media and technologies. I think kids’ tech use has more to do with their interests (and those of their friends, of course) than their ages, and I’m seeing more social flow across age groups in this generation than in mine. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not the technology that dictates kids’ tech use so much as the kid who uses the technology (and not entirely either way). If that was clearer than mud, argue with me – here or in the ConnectSafely forum!

And as for these new “books,” I don’t care what devices we get into school, but we do need to get social media into school, pre-K through 12, all classes – to narrow the gap between formal and all the informal learning kids are doing with social media outside of school, make school more relevant and interesting to students, and get school doing for social media what it has done for books for hundreds of years: guide and enrich students’ experiences with them (see “School and social media: Uber big picture”). I’m pleased to see others saying this too now. Here’s Nicholas Bramble in Slate: “Schools shouldn’t block SNS.” [See also “From digital disconnect to mobile learning” in school.]

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