The smartphonification of today's youth

The smartphonification of today's youth

Summary: Smartphones have become almost ubiquitous even though they haven't been around that long. They are creating the most advanced generation in the history of mankind.

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Image credit: Sprint

Every generation sees new things that improve life and quickly become commonplace. We're all guilty of saying to our kids things like "when I was young we didn't have [fill in the blank]." Our kids quickly roll their eyes and tune us out because they can't believe that [fill in the blank] never existed. Right now this is happening with the smartphone.

Think back and it's surprising, but the smartphone has only been around for a few years. It is a technology that is being adopted amazingly fast, and it's becoming nearly ubiquitous in developed countries. Try to imagine life without the smartphone and you quickly realize how ingrained in our lives it has already become.

The touch interface on smartphones is tailor-made for inquisitive children and they are learning how to use important technology from the first moment they hold one.

I'll bet parents with very young children haven't given much thought to it, but their kids have never lived when smartphones weren't around. Those of us with older kids probably remember when our children held their first smartphone with eyes filled with wonder. They were as impressed by the magic as we were when we first picked up a smartphone. So much goodness in the palm of our hand.

Young kids are now seeing the smartphone as soon as they see everything else. There is still wonder in the experience but only as much as there is with everything else they see for the first time. 

The smartphone is now a standard part of their world from day one. They are exposed from the start to one of the most incredible advances in technology ever to come along. They will grow up learning to not only use this technology to make their lives better, it will become second nature to them as they grow up. They will surely use it better than we do as a result.

You probably see this happening all the time. Kids love bright shiny objects that make noise and the smartphone is the high-tech version of the ring of keys we used to hand our kids to keep them occupied not that long ago. The difference, and it's a big one, is the shiny smartphone actually teaches our kids. That may happen through educational videos the parents run to keep the child occupied and out of trouble, or it may be a kiddie game. 

Even if the parent doesn't run an app, just letting the child play with the phone is teaching them about the technology. The touch interface on smartphones is tailor-made for inquisitive children and they are learning how to use important technology from the first moment they hold one.

It's early in the life of the smartphone as it is for the young children of today. They will both grow in capability together and kids today will be a new generation of very connected people. This connection will be both social and educational, and today's children will have a wealth of information in their hand as no generation to come before.

More importantly, they will never know what it's like to not have that information about the world at their beck and call. They are the most advanced generation of people in the history of mankind, and the smartphone will play a huge role in that. They are the children of the future, here today.

Topics: Mobility, Smartphones

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7 comments
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  • astute article

    How many of us have had the topic of this article as a fleeting thought, never to be recalled again, much less verbalized?

    Not only have you verbalized the basic thought, you have expanded the idea with meaningful additions.

    Thanks,

    A longtime follower of your blog...
    jmb codewriter
  • Not necessarily advanced...

    I used to feel that way about the generation(s) growing up with technology, but I realize with my own kids and their friends that there is a difference in being able to use technology and being able to understand it. And being able to understand it is what makes them advanced. After all, I am an excellent driver (aren't we all?) but don't ask me to do anything with my car other than drive it and perform basic maintenace (very basic). This is really no different than any technology that generations have grown up with. My grandmother never learned to drive and struggled to comprehend why a family would need multiple cars and multiple drivers. The only difference is the technology, not the generation.
    moth25
  • The Dumbest Generation

    is more like it. Kendrick couldn't be more wrong. When I was 15 I had written my first 75 page 'novel' and had started a writing club in school. Now 25 years later my 15 year old nephew can barely pry himself away from his iPad and has trouble writing 3 paragraphs without taking a 'break' to play a video game. His sister isn't much better and his friends are just like him.

    50 years from now the children of today will be known as 'The Dumbest Generation'. They will have been raised to have incredibly short attention spans, an inability to think things through or to think strategically. I guarantee that the problems this current young generation has and will have will be so obvious and frighteningly dangerous for the country that new techniques, rules, habits and even laws will have to be instituted to prevent future generations from having the 'disabilities' that the current generation is developing because of their addiction to mobile devices and video gaming. Kendrick of course can't see this because of his own social awkwardness (just look at his picture and read some of his past articles...need I say more?)
    babyfacemagee
  • SMARTPHONES CAN TRULY MAKE YOU DUMB

    I LIVE IN A HOUSEHOLD WITH SMARTPHONE EQUIPPED YOUNG ADULTS. I AM NOT IMPRESSED. THEIR ABILITY TO FOCUS AND UTILIZE ANALYTICAL ADVANCED THINKING IS TOTALLY MISSING.

    I LOVE MY SMARTPHONE, BUT I DEVELOPED ADVANCED THINKING I THE 1960'S AND 1970'S. [PhD 1977 ECONOMICS, PHYSICS AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE].

    MY SMARTPHONE AND LAPTOP ARE TOOLS-NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE GENIUS OF THE HUMAN MIND. I AM VERY TECH-SAVY BY THE WAY.

    SINCERELY,

    JEFFREY M DOYLE, PhD
    docjmd6981
    • If they are dumb, we are guilty!

      Let's say that you guys are right and the young generation of today is the dumbest ever... I doubt it, but let's say you are right.

      So who's to blame?

      In two words: THEIR PARENTS.

      It is very easy to throw the blame in third parties. There are those who throw it in the school system, and forget that schools were made to bring them knowledge while the family provided them education. But then in this case at least they are throwing the blame on people that can both defend themselves and improve their processes.

      The two responses above do something worse: they blame devices which cannot defend themselves, and were given to the children by their parents.

      Let's face it: the devices wouldn't be there if we hadn't given them to the children. And since we did it, it is OUR responsibility to rule the way that children are going to use them. Setting limitations of times, of situation (no video-games before homework is done), and all around that.

      I am sorry to say, but if Mr. Doyle (with all his PhD titles) and Mr. BabyFaceMagee have lost control of their children, they have to blame themselves, not the children and not the devices. Because what really happened is that our generation was the worse generation of parents in history.

      I am happy and proud to say that I have two young adults at home who are bright, logical and have the capacity to concentrate when they need. And this because I took the responsibility of guiding them and "convincing" them to do their homeworks, be responsible and always due with their school assignments, and specially, understand the importance of education for having a bright future. And I have NEVER deprived my children from being the first to have computers, the first to have smartphones and the first to have any kind of technology comparing to all their friends. They have grown up to be wise youngsters that use and understand technology, but more than that, understand the value of life, of education, and their path in this world.

      I see around me parents that followed the same recipe and had the same results. And see others that are busy blaming everything and everybody but themselves. The result is well known.

      So let me tell you guys: your children are not bad children - the truth is that you are bad parents.
      heliod
  • Digital Natives

    I have done research work about and a participatory design project with the so called "Digital Natives". The insights I got was that these young people engage, participate and interpret the world around them active and creative. The technology at their hand cannot be seen as just a "tool" - it is a gateway with many channels for them to deepen and widen their social networks, their interests, curiosity and everyday task.
    I find it "dumb" to call these young people "dumb". Yes, you will always find the lazy ones or the trouble makers in the bunch - but that is for certain not specific for any single generation.
    I think the older generation always has prejudices and "when I was young, we were way more..." thoughts when it comes to the younger generation. Has been like that since the beginning of time.
    I am not worried at all about the digital native.
    Slundt
  • Natives

    Natives of an advanced generation seem to be unable to perform basic (unadvanced) things, like repairing a leak in the house, or painting a wall.
    J from H