People do not form a homogenous block.
There are at least four categories of unevenly-proactive users on the Internet :
For context, a typology of the past 8 generations :
Missionary Generation 1860-1892
The Lost Generation 1883-1900
The Greatest Generation 1901-1924
The Silent Generation 1925-1942
Baby Boomers 1943-1960
Generation X 1961-1980
The Millennials 1980-2000
Digital Immigrants : 50 and over,
also called Mature generation or Baby Boomers.
These seniors are accustomed to the linearity of text and the PC. They are especially familiar with the broadcasting mode of content distribution. They have long been passive and anonymous, forming what was once called the silent majority. This is the last analog generation. Many of them are now retired, but to retain decision-making power they remain active in society.
Hybrids : from 35 to 50 years
They are between the two categories. Many are Generation X who feel they have had to sacrifice their dreams. They are stuck, trapped between baby boomers who do not want to let go of power and the ambitious members of Generation Y.
Digital natives : 15 to 35 years,
The Net Generation, the Millennium generation, Generation Y.
These are the netizens, born into a completely digital world, adept at mobility and multitasking. Society offers them few jobs, and there is a lot of unemployment. Over the past three or four years, 25% of these young people have left the primary social networks because their elders invaded. Most shifted to Instagram (many photos, some texts) and more recently WhatsApp and SnapChat. (This generation is likely to become less articulate because of the intensive use of the Internet – see Nicolas Carr, 2008) :
The generation of Bip and Clip, Rap and Zap :
Tablets and smartphones may eventually have negative or counter-productive effects on users :
- Young and naive users place infotainment at the top of their interests ;
- Attention span is diminished ;
- Critical thinking is diminished.
In classrooms, teachers find members of this generation are :
- clinging to their image ;
- imprisoned in their individualism ;
- convinced that they have nothing to learn because they are connected to Google, Wikipedia and Facebook.
The thirty most popular Facebook pages are all associated with commercial purchases and infotainment; there’s no high-ranking representation in the realm of ideas, mutual aid, environmental concerns or dedication. It is likely that this generation will have difficulty participating in collective projects.
Facebook has become a space for both self-promotion (self-disclosure and a venue for marketing oneself) and a gathering place for emergent activism.
The true natives :
Child royalty, from 3 to 15 years
These children do not know what life was like before the Internet. It’s a world in which people want everything, immediately. They live in a society that glorifies the body, youth and the persona of « Me ».
These are the smart thumbs generation, using their thumbs to type text messages.
The 3-6-9-12 rule (Serge Tisseron)
- No screen before 3 years of age ;
- No video game console before 6 years of age ;
- From 6 years old, two hours of daily screen (console and TV) ;
- From 9 years old, children can surf and browse if accompanied ;
- From 12 years old, children can navigate alone ; however, the number of hours spent in front of a screen must be balanced with other various activities.