Generational Differences: The Use Of the Internet
Everyone is doing it: surfing the net. Every generation nowadays is using the Internet for some reason or another. Kids, sometimes for play; students for school work; and adults in the workforce are using the net for business related topics or to plan their next vacation; seniors are using it to keep in touch with their grandchildren. If you aren’t using the net, then you are obviously not in tune with the Real World.
There have been my in depth studies dealing with generational use of the Internet. Who is wired and who is not. The gender gap. Who, how and why a person is using the Internet. Before I get into my own observations, I would like to introduce some observations that certified people in the field have made:
Kids: Children start to use the computer and surf the net just as fast as they can walk or talk. At first, they just want to play games, but then they find the amazing tool of surfing the net to find better games, more interesting games and for study. Children are being encouraged to use the Internet by their teachers. Small research projects are being assigned by their teachers to see if their students know how to use the information on the Internet for school related purposes. Chat rooms have also become popular among children. Disney.com has a chat room for youngsters to partake in and talk about their favorite characters, movies, etc.
Of course, children do not have the choice of their income - but this is a major concern among the “digital divide.” One of the most common “digital divide” findings is of course the use of computers in schools. A nationwide survey was taken and the results follow: teachers suggest that, as of 1998, more than 75% of students had access to computers at school. In fact, those teaching lower-income students reported weekly use of computers more often than those teaching higher-income students. But the nature of children’s experiences using computers in school varied greatly by subject and teacher objectives, and the data suggested that lower-income students use computers more often for repetitive practice, whereas higher-income students use computers more often for more sophisticated, intellectually complex applications. Differences between low-income and high-income children’s access to home computers were less subtle. Surveyed data indicated that only about 22% of children in families with annual incomes of less than $20,000 had access to a home computer, compared to 91% of those in families with annual incomes of more than $75,000. And among children with access, those in low income families were reported to use the computer less than those in high-income families, maybe because most low-income families with computers lacked a connection to the Internet. The two most predictive factors of children’s use of home computers were the child’s age and the computers capabilities. (Becker)