It’s a good thing that new humans are born with the assumption that the things they need to learn are the way that things are. Or, to put it more simply, that the world that they were born into is the world as it has always been. It takes years, decades, maybe forever to understand that things were very different only a few years before you started. Don’t get bored here, have a drink.
Having ‘learned the world’ before computers and the Internet really took off can make for a rather steep learning curve, a challenge even to those with skills and attitudes more suited to working with digital technology. In contrast, see how easily children and students who have never known a world without Internet access and wireless communications can function in this digital age.
The first time my father tried the computer he was amazed and at the same time overwhelmed by even the mouse. When he became slightly more proficient he could at least get online to check the email account we had set up for him. But he always needed help to purchase items online. I remember when he decided he wanted to order some online North Face fleece outerwear as Christmas gifts for grandchildren. I had to sit down and guide him through the whole process. The idea of being able to select among dozens of different fleece jackets / vests as well as other waterproof, windproof, or breathable jackets that were presented on just one site was mind boggling to him. He saw that he could choose among “softshell” jackets, running and training jackets, along with down or synthetic-insulated jackets, and lifestyle jackets, well you get the idea. I finally showed him how you could narrow the selection by choosing a price range for the jackets, which turned out to be VERY helpful. Check out was also an obstacle that I eased him through. He was so concerned about giving his credit card number. For younger folks who have grown up on making purchases online, the check out would have been a breeze and they wouldn’t have given a second thought about paying for the purchase.
I suppose it was the same way with our grandparents’ generation, dealing with the divide between those who were familiar with cars and television, and those who had grown up without regular personal exposure to the causes of those culture-changing revolutions. People develop their basic approaches to life based upon the environment, and humans have a uniquely encompassing ability to introduce ‘game-changing’ elements into their environment.
Sure, there are still people who see anything as new as an immediate threat to the youth of today…but these are the same people who would have liked to close down all educational scientific, artistic advances before there was even an Internet to worry about…and I don’t think that I’m generalizing too much when I assert that these are the same people who are probably going to be generally resistant to technology, too — and, as a cause or consequence, they are probably less than well-informed about the specifics.
Of course, youth has it’s drawbacks too. A more familiar acceptance of new technology, and the marketing that goes with it, provides more room for abuse when there is no established frame of reference for a reasoned, critical judgment — especially when the culture that grows around the new technology seems to discourage such judgment, purposefully or unintentionally.