One thing that has become clear to us through both personal experience and our work with Think Before You Type is the gap between teens and adults online. There are many reasons why this gap exists, but the major one is that most teens have grown up using technology and are accustomed to the place it holds in almost every aspect of their daily lives, while many adults are not. People tend to discuss this gap from an adult perspective, but as teenagers, we think it’s important to share ours as well.
Our parents have been on the Internet much longer than we have. They were the ones who taught us what an email is and how to use a mouse. But now the tables have turned. We're the ones who teach our parents about a great deal of things regarding the Internet and social media. Our dad is still the person we go to if we have computer problems, but he comes to us if he wants to change his profile picture on Facebook.
We're so accustomed to using the Internet that it seems almost natural, and we often forget that it's not. As a generation, we tend to know a lot more about the Internet than our parents and members of older generations. However, we learn countless other things from the adults in our lives every day, and they should have the opportunity to learn from us as well. Teens, with our ever-growing technological knowledge, may be just the people to teach them.
We haven’t only seen evidence of this gap from our parents, but from other adults that we have worked with through Think Before You Type as well. A few weekends ago we had the honor of speaking at the Digital Family Summit in Baltimore. It was an amazing experience and a great milestone for Think Before You Type. We were able to meet adults, teens, and tweens who were excited about their digital citizenship. One major thing we learned from this is that even adults who are experts and influential bloggers use the Internet differently than teens do. Yes, these experts are often ahead of the curve and willing to try new things, but they typically do it in a different way than teens do. It’s not only what sites and devices they’re on but also their overall purpose for being on the Internet in the first place.
A lot of the websites and apps that we use are geared towards our age group. Most adults simply do not have the time or the desire to learn about these things, which is why they’re not marketed towards them. Through talking with our parents and other adults, one thing we’ve learned is that they are often either unaware or uneducated about certain websites and apps that teens love to use. We know that this lack of understanding worries both parents and teachers. How can they keep us safe if they don’t know what we’re dealing with? Obviously, there is no clean cut solution to this problem, but we know that both sides can play an active role in bridging the generational gap.
Cover image courtesy of Flickr.