*excerpt from Don Tapscott’s book Grown Up Digital – How the Net Generation is Changing Your World*

Net Geners are the first generation to grow up taking digital technology for granted and have been around computers since before they could speak. For them, “technology is like air,” necessary but invisible. They can’t imagine living without it. Their continual connection to others worldwide has produced the first truly global generation. Immigration to the U.S. has made Net Geners “increasingly multiracial” and tolerant.

  • Net Geners are more active. Almost 80% of them read interactive blogs daily, leaving comments and adding links.
  • They multitask, watching TV while texting, talking on the phone or surfing the Internet.
  • They’re more likely to use their cellphones as everything from alarm clocks to GPS devices. They may even use their phones’ cameras as a kind of instrument for social action, for instance, to document police misconduct.

Kids and technology

Net Geners share “eight norms” that unify them as a generation:

1.  “Freedom” – Net Geners expect and demand freedom, choice and variety in all areas of their lives. Rather than finding a job after college and holding on to it, they keep looking for the right job. They want to live and work where and when they choose.

2.  “Customization” – Previous generations accepted mass-produced products. Net Geners regularly customize their purchases and even their jobs.

3.  “Scrutiny” – Having always been exposed to countless competing media channels, Net Geners almost instinctively scrutinize any information they encounter. They expose hoaxes quickly, and make short work of false pretenses. To communicate with Net Geners and to sell to them, you must be honest and open.

4.  “Integrity” – Net Geners demand integrity. They expect companies to display honesty. They can forgive genuine mistakes, but not deception or harmful practices.

5.  “Collaboration” – Members of previous generations sometimes swapped stories about work over a drink, but they did their actual work alone. Net Geners grew up collaborating; it is natural for them. Their collaboration goes beyond teamwork or social contributions, and often takes the form of co-creation (think Wikipedia).

6.  “Entertainment” – Net Geners love to be entertained. They expect to take regular breaks from work to relax. In fact, they don’t even see clear lines between work and play; they want to have fun at work. That’s why Microsoft and Google put so many games online.

7.  “Speed” – Net Geners are fluent users of texting and instant messaging, which are built on high-speed connections, so they expect everything to happen quickly. Their Internet connections and computers have become faster and faster. They want rapid answers, decisions and action. Slowness makes them bored, worried and irritated.

8.  “Innovation” – All their lives, Net Geners have seen new products and technologies arrive in a steady stream of change. They expect change and want the best, latest toys.

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