Friday, December 26, 2008

The net generation

Hurt offers a review of Tapscott's recent book "Growing up Digital", which defines the 81 million people born between 1977 to 1997 that make up 27% of the population as the "net generation" (following generations X and Y).
"As the first global generation ever, the Net Geners are smarter, quicker and more tolerant of diversity than their predecessors,” Tapscott writes. “They care strongly about justice and the problems faced by their society and are typically engaged in some kind of civic activity at school, at work or in their communities."

Mr. Tapscott devotes an entire chapter to examining how Net Geners are already using their collective power to transform society — as evidenced by their impact on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign...He documents how Mr. Obama capitalized on interactive social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace that inspired the participation of millions of small donors, while Hillary Rodham Clinton relied on relatively old broadcast-style media like television and e-mail to attract much lower numbers of mostly large donors.

Mr. Tapscott identifies eight norms of many members of the Net Generation: they prize freedom; they want to customize things; they enjoy collaboration; they scrutinize everything; they insist on integrity in institutions and corporations; they want to have fun even at school or work; they believe that speed in technology and all else is normal; and they regard constant innovation as a fact of life.

He cites recent brain-imaging and childhood-development studies to buttress his contention that Internet use by Net Geners has fundamentally changed — and improved — the way their brains are wired. Noting that raw I.Q. scores have been climbing by three points a decade since World War II across racial, income and regional boundaries, Mr. Tapscott asserts that Net Geners are also developing valuable skills that do not show up on standard I.Q. tests.

“Not only do video game players notice more, they have highly developed spatial skills that are useful for architects, engineers and surgeons,” he says.


  1. Another good post.

    Change in IQ over time is always an interesting subject. I believe the average IQ has been increasing at a fairly steady rate since the invention of the test. It is an especially interesting subject because, theoretically, less educated people reproduce more, so we should expect that, if IQ was purely genetic, average IQ scores should go down over time. Any explanations for this?

  2. I think the generally accepted explanation is that the human brain is sufficiently plastic in its development that it can wire to accommodate whatever environment it encounters. As the demands of the environment become more complex, it becomes more complex.