Those crazy young people

Those crazy young people.
My youngest daughter (13) was talking about “away messages” and her AOL Instant Messenger last week, so I thought it was time to Google. Apparently, there’s a whole cottage industry developing for away messages, and sociologists are studying why. It seems that young people want to live simultaneously in the real and cyber worlds. This is especially true on college campuses. Clever away messages allow a student’s “presence” to remain online while they’re attending classes. The Web’s social network capacity is unlike anything we’ve experienced before.

Maybe that’s why last week’s Edison Media Research/Arbitron survey showed 54 percent of people aged 12–24 would rather give up their television than the Internet. This is a significant generation gap, for their parents would rather do the opposite.

Young people’s love of the Internet is confirmed in a very well-done New York Times article today:

Note to the television networks: Pete Brandel is not missing. He’s right here, but like a lot of other 20-something men he’s just not watching as much TV.

Mr. Brandel, a 24-year-old real estate agent in Chicago, says that these days he looks to the Internet for news and entertainment. Television, he says, is bogged down by commercials and teasers that waste his time.

“I’ll go to the Comedy Central Web site and download David Chappelle clips rather than wait to see them on TV,” he said.

This is an excellent article that summarizes a lot of the thought discussed here, and I recommend it to readers.

Technology is beyond second nature to young people. It’s an essential part of life. The Washington Post reports that learning HTML is becoming necessary in order to be considered cool as a young person.

Kids are learning HTML code to create their own sites, not necessarily an easy thing for the pencil-and-paper generation to accept. For those who’ve lived under an eraser for the last decade, HTML is short for “hypertext markup language,” the computer coding used to create Web pages.

“If you’re 12 or 14 and you don’t know HTML, your friends won’t respect you,” (Jamie) Riehle (global manager of Web publishing for Terra Lycos, one of the Internet companies promoting site-building) says. “There is ‘a cool geek factor.’ Smart is cool again.”

The research firm, Grunwald Associates, estimates there are about 2 million sites created by kids age 6 to 17. By next year, there could be 6 million or more. Grunwald estimates that 9 percent of kids age 9 to 12 have their own sites.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Reuters reports that a teenage girl flew into a rage and chased her mother around their flat with a knife and wooden pole after she confiscated the teenager’s mobile phone. The woman had to barricade herself in the bathroom until authorities arrived.

Obsessive? Nah.


  1. Unfortunately, for many teenagers technology is more essential than education. Being technologically savvy does not make you any smarter than being in a garage makes you more automotive.

  2. Good observation, Michelle. Young people armed with technology are increasingly asking why they have to learn when everything’s just a mouse click away. Welcome to the Postmodern world. 🙂

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