If you have a child under the age of 10, do you have to help them with the computer? Of course not! The only thing you had to do was show them how to turn it on the first time. Some CEOs have told me stories about how they get their 10- or 12-year-old children do their PowerPoint presentations for them.
The digital natives are not just creating our presentations and constantly multitasking, they are also teaching us how to communicate in this digital world. I never really got into texting until I realized it was the only way I could truly reach my son or my stepson. When my son Christopher was in college, if I needed to send important information to him, I had to get creative to actually get it to him. He didn't check his email frequently—because he was always on Facebook or texting. So I started texting him to check his email.
A simplistic rule: If you're over 35, you think email is cool; if you're in your 20s you think IM is cool; if you're under 20, it is texting. Just look at your cell phone bill. Parents have many more call minutes than number of texts. For digital natives, it's just the opposite—racking up 4,000 to 7,000 texts per month is not at all unusual. How long did it take you to get the unlimited texting plan from your cellular carrier? Probably a month.
In my last column, I wrote that the millennials will be viewed by future historians as the generation of leaders and managers who faced and solved many of the large problems we are leaving to them. I think that these same historians will look back at the digital native generation as the innovators who helped solve these problems. More importantly, the digital natives will be viewed as one of the greatest generations of artists and creators, and they even may signal the beginning of a new level of connected human consciousness. After all, they are the first generation to grow up in a globally connected, always-on world.
Do you have any parental experiences you care to share about raising your digital native children? Please share them below.
David Houle is an award-winning futurist and strategist who has launched successful brands and is an in-demand speaker about the future. He writes the popular futurist blog Evolution Shift and lives his life slightly ahead of the curve.