Generation Y’s supposed unerring grasp of the new technologies seems to be slipping a bit. It appears that not all members of the younger generation are super-connected and there is a minority who have yet to master some of the tools.
The new information and communication technologies are not the stamping ground of the entire Generation Y after all. In fact the common idea that there is a generational break in the use and mastery of new technology has been challenged by Christopher Jones, a researcher at the UK- based Open University. A survey he carried out among over 2,000 first-year students from five British universities demonstrates that the gap between the current generation of young people, who are supposed to be immersed in the new technologies, and older generations who are said to be less familiar with technology is not clear-cut. "The diverse ways that young people use technology today shows this argument is too simplistic and that a new single generation, often called the 'net generation', with high skill levels in technology, does not exist." says Dr Jones.
Variations in use
It is a fact that the vast majority (97.8%) of the younger generation own a mobile phone. Three quarters own a laptop and more than a third a desktop computer. But even though 70.1% say their access to computers is sufficient for their needs, the survey reveals that a small minority of students don’t use email and don’t have access to portable phones. Students who were 20 years old or younger reported being more engaged in instant messaging, texting, and participating in social networks than students who were aged 25 or over. In fact, only 4.3% of those aged 20 or younger said they never use social networking websites, compared to 78.5% of those aged 35 or older.
Still a need to get everyone up to speed
However, certain new technologies such as blogs (21.5%) and wikis (12.1%) are only used by a minority of the students interviewed, regardless of their age. Male students seem to be more confident than their female counterparts in their use of some of the technology tools. However, results revealed that although students do have a wide exposure to information and communication technology, they often lack in-depth knowledge of certain types of software. So there could still be a role for universities here in helping to fill some of the gaps.