Most of us at our Growing Leaders office own an iPhone. Everyone in my family owns one. My youngest, Jonathan, purchased his with his own money. He rarely gets up in the morning without reaching for it. In many ways, it is his lifeline to the world. He is part of a generation I call “Generation iY” impacted by iPhones, iPods, iChat, iMovies, iTunes—and the internet in general. They’re the students born from 1990 on. In our focus groups, we’ve heard them say things like:
- My cell phone is an appendage to my body.
- It’s always on; its like…glued to me 24/7.
- I can’t imagine being disconnected from my friends.
- Without my mobile phone, I wouldn’t survive.
While you and I may say these are overstatements, Generation iY perceives the world this way. Web 2.0 has changed everything for them. It’s the latest iteration of the internet—deemed the real time web by analysts. It’s produced excessive use of PCs or cell phones for quick interaction and constant access to on-line information. This hyper-connectedness is fueled by the rise in social media and made up of quick, short communication and the absence of privacy. More than 4 in 5 U.S. adults on-line use social media at least once a month, according to a recent Forrester Research report. We tweet, we update our Facebook profile, we text, we post a video on YouTube or a blog on our website. Due to the current obsession with connection, telephone landlines are being impacted. In 2008, 20% of U.S. households were mobile phone only, up from 7% in 2005. At the current rate of growth, the last landline will be cut in 2025. It’s affecting all of us. People, especially youth, just don’t want to disconnect. It’s an infectious behavior that’s here to stay.
So What’s the Impact?
I took a moment to ponder and research the positive and negative impact of this connectedness. If you are a teacher, coach, administrator, youth worker, parent or employer of young people, I invite you to consider the following outcomes of our connectedness.
The Generation iY kids will quickly point out the positive features to their obsession with staying connected. Due to social media connections:
- Users can stay informed quickly on news. Let’s face it, the reason the world knew what was going on in the Iran election fiasco this year was due to Twitter and texts. While there is lots of nonsense being transmitted through social media—it carries important information as well. No one needs to be uninformed.
- Users are more likely to attend high school and college reunions, due to staying in touch with those who have shared interests. In reality, social media can help people sift through preferences (likes and dislikes) in a fairly short amount of time. It enables relationships and people who are miles apart geographically to feel more like neighbors.
- Users can upload important information or report crises in an instant. Information that used to take a long time to get around, now can get to the right eyes and ears in real time. News, crimes, discoveries and tragedies can be resolved readily. I read recently of two girls trapped in a sewer tunnel who were rescued because they posted their problem on Facebook, from their phone.
Actually, there are many, many more “upsides” to technology we all have grown reliant on that I won’t take time to name here. Tomorrow, I plan to blog about four downsides to technology and social media we must reckon with if we want to stay emotionally healthy.
What kind of positive outcomes or results do you see from this new world we live in today? How is life better than it was thirty to thirty-five years ago?