At the moment, my daughter is talking on her laptop to an old school pal of hers whose family moved to Israel. This is the world she lives in and to her, as a middle class kid, it’s as normal as breathing. (Or at least it is until Internet providers decide they’re going to charge us a small fortune for web talking to Israel, which should be within the next five years or so.) To others, it seems to often mean her brain is being turned into toast. Of course, the list of things that are supposedly turning her brain to toast is ever lengthening: television, horror movies, computer games, MP3 players, abbreviations and emoticons, Twilight, etc. Grown-ups dazzled by Twitter (which adolescents mostly don’t use,) and confused by the appeal of the flotsam of YouTube (while seemingly forgetting shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos,) see kids as tech-savvy electric addicts well on their way to being isolated cyborgs unable to recognize face to face encounters.
Except they aren’t, as recent research shows, covered in this article from Spiegel Online International. They’re kids and teens and the Internet is just another gadget resource for them, a way to, say, talk to friends in Israel:
The key quote from the article is this one:
For a brief transition period, the Web seemed to be tremendously new and different, a kind of revolutionary power that could do and reshape everything. Young people don’t feel that way. They hardly even use the word “Internet,” talking about “Google”, “YouTube” and “Facebook” instead. And they certainly no longer understand it when older generations speak of “going online.”
“The expression is meaningless,” Tom says. Indeed the term is a relic of a time when the Internet was still something special, evoking a separate space distinct from our real life, an independent, secretive world that you entered and then exited again.
Tom and his friends just describe themselves as being “on” or “off,” using the English terms. What they mean is: contactable or not.