One of the biggest divisions between the generations today is technology. And with a huge disparity in attitudes towards technology as well as competence levels, there is a danger that each generation is becoming even more separated, settling into their own niche areas regarding the way that we all socialize, receive news, and communicate with each other. When asking how technology affects the generation gap, there is a lot more to it than having the ability to download a movie or app or do online shopping.
First up the most digital savvy group of adults are the Millennials. These people born between 1981 and 1996 cannot remember a time without email and the internet. Millennials are technically competent, and this generation tends to want to share their lives online in a way that would appeal to older people. There is an attitude that if it isn’t posted on social media, it just didn’t happen!
By contrast, Generation X , the people born in the early 1960s through to the ’70s are often technically able to use the internet and use online banking , shopping and to occasionally post on social media, but in most cases, technology is not a major part of their social lives.
Baby Boomers (born 1946-64), the earlier generation are even further away from Millennials. This generation watch TV, buy newspapers and although many have embraced technology, many still only use their phones for making calls.
So how does technology affect the generation gap?
In most cases, it comes down to attitudes. In previous generations we all tended to share the same influences. We watched the news and TV together, so everyone was influenced by the same issues. Today the Millennials and younger will go straight to YouTube and online sources such as Twitter. It is a fast moving and often wildly inaccurate view of the world.
By contract, Boomers and older age groups tend to still watch MSM, and although these groups have been fast to learn technical skills in order to keep up, being online is no substitute for real face to face conversation with real life friends. Facebook is extremely popular with the older demographic for this reason.
Technical ability is also important. How technology affects the generation gap is impacted by how well older people can learn and use new technology. This tends to be written by Millennials for the younger generation, so many older people can become left behind when things move too fast.
In truth, both Millennials and earlier generations have a lot to learn from each other. It is not socially acceptable to be always looking at your phone, according to older people. Yet for Millennials, this is ordinary behavior that is not intended to be rude or disrespectful.
There has to be a compromise, but with entire families speaking very different languages and learning a whole new set of values from each other, maybe the best way to smooth the way between the generations is to settle down to watch some entertaining cat videos as a family!