In his last column, futurist David Houle analyzed the collective decision-making of the millennial generation, which is now in their 20s. Now, he goes even younger, investigating the generation of digital natives now in their teens and tweens.
In my last column, I wrote that today's children are actually two generations, the millennials and the digital natives. The population of these two generations will be 2 million greater than the baby boom generation, a truly significant statistic that means these two generations will shape the future of the United States for the next 40 years.
The millennials are the generation that has come of age in this millennium, meaning that they are, for the most part, now in their 20s. The digital natives generally are 18 and under. Now that you know about the millennials, I would like to introduce you to the digital natives. It is this generation that, in my experience with audiences, creates the greatest amount of conversation with parents and grandparents.
The digital natives are the very first generation to be born into the digital world. The digital landscape is their native land. We grew up in the analog world, so we are immigrants to this new digital land. Sometime during our lifetime, we gradually moved from analog to digital. We were adults when we got our first cell phone, bought our first CD or DVD or even purchased or had our first computer. Not the digital natives.
This generation cannot remember not having a computer in the home, cannot remember Mom and Dad not having cell phones, cannot remember watching TV without dozens—if not hundreds—of channels, and even more importantly, cannot remember not having access to the Internet. They are the very first generation to experience all of this as children. This has made them different. Simply put, they are distinctly different than their parents and even different than the older millennials in their late 20s.