Why We Need to Pay Attention to Anyone Under 25

Today as I was doing my Christmas shopping, I was listening to Net@Night with Amber MacArthur and Leo Laporte (wow…listening to tech podcasts while Christmas shopping…I am SUCH a geek!).

My husband had called me and suggested I listen to this particular episode closely, and I’m glad I did. Leo and Amber had Don Tapscott, author of “Grown up Digital”, on the show. It’s a book I have yet to read (but fully intend to, now).

It was a thought provoking show. The three of them talked about what I call the digital generation…kids who are now in their late teens and early twenties, who have grown up never knowing a world without computers. The entire point that Tapscott makes is that we need to be paying very serious attention to these young people. They are the ones who are going to take Internet into the future. Long after us thirty and forty-somethings are retired (and I’m on a beach in Turks and Caicos), these are the people that are going to be changing the face of marketing, media and corporations the world over.

I’ve talked about this fact a couple of times before now. In this post a few months ago, I mentioned that today’s students are going to be creating the Web of the future. Their ideas and opinions should be taken seriously. After spending the past three months teaching 80 or so people who are part of this younger generation, I believe that even more strongly now.

I also talked about it with Danny Brown about the contribution that younger generations are making to the online world. I firmly believe that the young people of today are going to do things with this social Web that many of us haven’t even dreamed of yet.

The social media bubble is alive and well, in my opinion. The networks I travel in are typically made up of 30 and 40 something professionals, many in the marketing/PR/traditional media worlds. We spend our days and nights building relationships, being helpful to others, teaching, talking, branding ourselves, and explaining the usefulness of a plethora of tools to bosses, clients, seniors, the dog – whoever will listen.

Don’t get me wrong. There are so many people in this space who are brilliant thinkers, and are working very hard in a positive way to help figure this new medium out. They are doing exceptional things, and I want nothing less than to see this space be moved forward by their thoughtful leadership. What I am saying is that while we are out there trying to pump social media to corporations and business owners and media people, we should not forget about the digital generation. We need to pay close attention to  what they are up to.

Leo Laporte made a wise observation on the Net@Night show when he said that his teenage kids these days are more resourceful and well read than he was at that age. I think a lot of us feel that way, and with good reason.

What our generation has had to learn over the past 15 or 20 years about computers and the Internet, anyone under the age of 25 has always been exposed to. Don Tapscott says “it’s like air to them”. In other words, they’ve never had to live without it.

We talk and talk about how to explain social media to our clients, our grandparents, our bosses. We try to find the easiest way to describe Twitter, or blogging, or Digg. We struggle to come up with real metrics and ROI and all the rest. I wonder what would happen if we got 100 digital genners into a room and asked them to explain it? What words would they use? This isn’t “new”, “life altering”, or a “technological revolution” to them. This is their life. They live it every day. They don’t know life without MySpace, IM, Facebook, and YouTube. Sharing information and communicating online is second nature to them. It always has been, and more importantly, it always will be.

The problem is, social media is not second nature to us. It flips traditional way we were taught to communicate on its head. And that’s why we struggle with it.

If you’re at all interested in this social revolution that’s taking place, maybe it’s time you sat down and had a good talk with the young people in your life. They just might open your eyes to a new way of thinking about all this stuff. And they just might be able to help you take it to the next level, too.

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  • December 19, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Dear Young People,

    Call me. Let’s do lunch.


    Seasoned Person

    Julie Wright’s last blog post..Most-watched web video Evolution of Dance launching sequel

  • December 20, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Great blog post.

    It is very surreal infact, that there is an entire generation of young people who use technology and speak the language of technology so fluently…that we are turning to ‘them’ for translation in many areas.

    They are the exciting new breed who will be coming up with new ways to approach things. We are fortunate to be so keen to communicate and cross the age-barrier gap and learn from the ‘up-an-comers’ as well as using technology and developing it ourselves in this day.

    I want to have that conversation and learn from someone who speaks the language so fluently.




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