The Net Generation is a popular term used to describe children born after the development of the Internet, a publicly available Global Communications Network. It was first used in 1998 by Donald Tapscott; a social commentator observing how young people were using new Internet technologies, such as the World Wide Web (WWW), with apparent ease and confidence.
When the term first appeared, it was quickly circulated via the Internet and the attributes assigned to the Net Generation were rapidly adopted by the popular media. Tapscott’s book, Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation (Tapscott, 1998), is written in a conversational style that is easily accessible by the general public. His commentary was timely, and occurred as the popularity of the Internet increased seemingly overnight, and began to become part of mainstream society in homes and in the workplace.
Understanding the background of the internet; the technological developments that occurred long before 1998; and the change of pace that took place in the early 1990s, is a fundamental first step in providing a cogent explanation of how the Net Generation Theory, and its associated logic, emerged when it did.
Internet Development: The Early Years
The early development of the Internet occurred over a twenty year period, before 1984, and was originally initiated by the advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), within the Department of Defense (DoD), in the United States. The agency was established as a response to The Cold War, to develop science and technology applications for the military, and to turn the United States into a leader in these fields (Zakon, 2006).
The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was the networking group, formed in 1968 to develop host level protocols, which would enable the transfer of information over a computer network. The first message sent over this network occurred in 1969, between researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) (Kleinrock, L, 1969).
For the next twelve years,...