Warning: gross generational generalizations. Please post your exceptions and disagreements in the comments section.
The Baby Boomers and Generation X both loved the telephone. As teens they spent hours chatting away but their children do not. The relationship between young people and the phone has fundamentally shifted. For generation x the phone was a source of freedom connecting them with their friends and the world around them. Then the internet happened. And so did the cell phone. Now, phones are from hades.
While Boomers and Xers had unlimited calling, Yers pay by the minute. Why don’t they just use the land line? They don’t know the numbers. I would guess the average Gen X teenager had over a dozen numbers memorized. Maybe even dozens. Gen Y kids maybe have one or two. All their numbers are in their cell phone.
Generation Y is hopelessly dependent on cell phones that annoy, interrupt and haunt them everywhere they go. They don’t know even know the time without consulting their phone. This love hate relationship has caused them to embrace online phone alternatives.
Cellphones charge by the minute so Yers keep their phone conversations short and move longer discussions to cheaper mediums such as SMS, IM, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and email. These mediums don’t require constant attention and fit well for a ADD communication style. The problem is these mediums are shallow and not well suited for deep relationships.
A New Way of Learning
Not only are cell phones changing the way we communicate with each other they are also changing the way we learn. The old goal of education was to teach facts. Now learning facts is of little help when those facts can be googled from a cellphone. Now thinking and using facts are far more important skills in the work world.
Just like paper destroyed people’s long term memories (there was a time when it was not uncommon to memorize three hundred page poems or whole books of the Bible word for word) cell phones are destroying short term memories. It is getting to the point we never need to remember anything except our cell phone.
I don’t know what the answer is. To keep up in our fast paced world of today you need a cellphone. To keep up tomorrow you need an Internet ready SmartPhone. I have an iPhone I don’t know how I could keep up without it.