News

    Mixed Future Awaits Hyper-Connected Youth

    New 'lower class' will be those who are not up to speed

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Ted Landphair

    For a long time, there was talk about America’s “Generation X” and then “Generation Y,” referring to our young people.

    Millennials can balance a lot of information. But, according to a new study, they give it superficial attention and are easily distracted.
    Millennials can balance a lot of information. But, according to a new study, they give it superficial attention and are easily distracted.

    Now the buzzword is “millennials,” since many of our teenagers and young adults were born in the years just before and right after the turn of the century - which also happened to be the beginning of a new thousand-year millennium.

    Others call our young people the “always-on” generation.

    They seem to be in perpetual touch with each other - and sampling information from the world over - via cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices.

    Now Elon University in North Carolina and the Pew Internet and American Life Project have produced a study of millennials and what the future may hold for them. It’s based on a survey of more than 1,000 tech experts, scholars, and educators.

    The survey finds that today’s young Americans are, in its words, “hyper-connected.” That’s both good and bad for their future.

    On the good side: Millennials are nimble, quick-acting “multi-taskers” who approach problems in fresh ways and have an almost magical ability to quickly process a great deal of information. They are astute at telling the difference between so-called “noise” and truly important messages in what the report calls “the ever-growing sea of information.”  

    These abilities could lead to important breakthroughs that will benefit the country.  

    But the experts interviewed by Elon and the Pew Project found a troublesome flip side as well: They predict that the “always-on” generation will, in the report’s words, “exhibit a thirst for instant gratification and quick fixes, a loss of patience, and a lack of deep thinking ability,” due to what one expert called “fast-twitch wiring.”

    That particular conclusion won’t surprise parents and other older adults who watch today’s young people zip through information with the speed - and sometimes the analytical skills - of a buzzing gnat.  

    Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Project, notes what he called “palpable concern” that the marvelous communications skills exhibited by many “tech-literate” young people are not shared by all of their peers. He says this could create “new social and economic divisions” between Americans who can comfortably navigate through the maze of technological gadgets, and those who cannot.

    In other words, a different kind of “lower class” that literally isn’t up to speed.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Hui
    March 29, 2012 9:23 PM
    Agreed with Mr. Rainie's point, that this may create new divisions.

    by: kim young sung
    March 16, 2012 12:49 AM
    what a nice idea!

    by: ADEGULU ANTHONY KAYODE
    March 11, 2012 7:48 AM
    To the best of my knowlegde i think every technology invented by man could be used either positively or negatively. Millenials, as they have been known are adviced to become beneficiaries of this 21st century Hi-Tech discoveries and not it's victms.As someone once said: "Guns don't kill, but people do".

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora