Am I an old fogie when it comes to tech?

15 Jun 2009|LiAnne Yu

I’ve recently entered parenthood by becoming a stepmom to my partner’s 14 year old son, and even though I like to think of myself as both young at heart and technologically savvy, I’ve come to realize that when it comes to tech and entertainment, I’m an old fogie. Here are some areas where I’ve experienced myself on the wrong side of the generational gap:

Music ownership versus music access. I come from the era of vinyl and CD’s. Even though I’ve happily switched to an iPod and iTunes, I still think of my music as, well, MY music, which I have purchased and will own forevermore. My son, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about the idea of owning music, so long as he can access music on places such as www.playlist.com and www.last.fm. For him, free music is a fundamental human right.

Email versus social networking sites. Call me old fashioned, but I still automatically think of email when I want to reach out to someone (at least I’m no longer in the landline phone generation). My son and his friends wouldn’t even have email addresses if they weren’t required to at school. Facebook is their main messaging application. Email is boring and so corporate, not worth the hassle.

Software versus services. My computer life still revolves around boxes – I buy software, install it, register it, and use it. My son, on the other hand, wouldn’t ever dream of going to Fry’s to buy a box in order to do what he needs to do. His mental model for computing is all around getting what he needs and saving what he does online. And doing all of this for free, of course.

Targeted communication versus broadcasting. Here’s the clincher for identifying me as a true old fogie: I make a real effort to not post personal messages on Facebook, or to broadcast 1:1 conversations to everyone. Not so for the kid and his friends – communication isn’t communication unless it’s broadcast to everyone. It’s like that saying about the tree falling in the forest – If someone says something but it wasn’t posted on Facebook or Twitter, it doesn’t count as having really been said.

Once upon a time, the tech generational gap meant having parents who still used typewriters. Now, it’s a whole new ballgame, and even those of us parents who think we’re pretty savvy are learning that our kids have a really different mental model when it comes to engaging with tech.

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