Think of it this way: if 10% of every other generation does X, but 40% of a particular generation does X, then that generation really should be known for doing X, even though the majority of members of that generation don't do X! Don't let the easy availability of anecdotal counterexamples to a trend fool you; a trend in a population is a trend even if not literally everyone in that population is a part of it.
Of course, there might well be a better way to divide up the population that serves as a better predictor for the trend, and so "explains away" the generational effect. E.g. changes in racial composition (and so culture) due to immigration over the years; or growth of subcultures as self-reinforcing memetic entities, apart from any generational proclivity toward them; or economic effects pushing people to have different emotional needs (e.g. a change in gender-balance of the workforce will see different types of businesses created to offer self-care to tired workers.)
But, by another lens, all these other effects are "part of" the generational effect; they're the composition of the narrative the generation will tell about itself, and so be remembered for.
I was born in a year that traditionally was generally not considered "millennial" by demographers, but since it also did not fit with the years they used for previous generations, modern definitions tend to include my birth year as "millennial". This irritates me, because myself and most of those that I know who are my age don't fit the usual descriptions of "millennials" and we don't like the association. Now, I happen to like millennials. My wife is solidly in the millennial years. I have many friends who were born in the millennial years. But I don't like having the label applied to myself and I don't fit the descriptions at all.
In the end it isn't a big deal. I have no plans to ever call myself a millennial. But it is worth cautioning against stereotyping individuals because of the year they were born, as I unfortunately see many people do.
It's definitely some level of stereotyping, but there definitely appears to be a divide with friends (especially from college) who are a few years older than me, and those who are a few years younger. The older group finished college and entered the work force just as the internet was really beginning to churn, when it was interesting but not necessary, when it was still easy to ignore the digital world socially and economically. As a result they seem to be much less plugged in online than my friends who are just a few years younger.
You sound like you were born in 1981 or 1982. I noticed this phenomenon as well, and it led me to conclude that "millennial" (and, to be fair, most other generational labels) really functions in common usage as an epithet, ie. anyone younger (or older) than me that I wish to denigrate by stereotyping them.
It's normal you don't associate personaly with every trend. Especially if you lived in some local bubble or if you are on the edge of some defined group. That doesn't matter and I would just ignore it. This isn't about any specific person.
Being out of step with your peers is a separate issue.
What kind of research? Can you give references?
If you mix 50/50 red & blue, obviously that's purple.
When it's 80/20 red & blue, that looks more red than blue but looks purple but not the same as above.
When it's 20/80 red & blue, that looks more blue than red but looks purple but not the same as above.
It's a classification using a gradient, not an integer so yes, the boundaries are hard to tell but are still there.
Sometimes there genuinely are very big changes between generations. E.g. Brexit, which is much more widely supported by old people than young people.
Gen z were/are young adults during the '10s. Gen alpha will be young adults during the '20s.
Generally a person's pre-teen/teen/early 20's are very formative so the shared experiences that a generation will have probably do form a real connective tissue within the age cohort that separates them from those with different experiences. A binary (anyone less than x years old is a y) isn't so useful to describe such a phenomenon.
1982 - 1996, that is more than ten years. But the people in that range would have shared formative experiences during the '00s. Thus the moniker millenials.
I also noticed that there's something different compared to when we were teens which we often forget and it's that there are devices (smartphones) which are used as extreme surveillance tools by some parents. It'd not be unreasonable to think that this only reason may make the devices much more unattractive to them.
Edit: verb typo.
Or it is a reaction to a parent obsession. I can imagine how a kid hates screens because parent spend more time with them then with the kid.
I think the way most teenagers walk this path is by being on different services than their parents ("facebook is for moms!")
There could also be an element of "this phone is more for you than for me", like if your employer "generously" gives you a cellphone.
Wouldn't a good-old voice call be the logical fix for this?
The very stupidest ideas are filtered out by parents "no you aren't getting 100 phones to throw". And the merely mundane ideas are filtered out by newspapers "a kid wanting a green phone isn't newsworthy".
We are currently racking up about 245 years of collective human experience every second, and most of it is available to be reported to the internet. And most of it is from cultures and life-experiences different from yours, no matter who you are.
Human intuition about what is “plausible” for other humans to have experienced is frequently wrong.
For me, the internet is the world I discovered for myself, first in the age of BBSes and an early WWW before any of FAANG were even born.
For kids, how better to make a difference than having none of the consumer devices that everyone including their parents carries around.
Kids need to make a difference, as we all did. It‘s in our genes and we better learn from them.
Possibly not coincidentally, that's the generation boundary: the divide between Millenials and Homelanders is usually placed between 1998 and 2001, based on whether you're old enough to have living memories of the time before 9/11. The first children born after 9/11 are entering college this month. It makes sense that the generation that grew up in the pervasive culture of fear since then would look at technology not through the lens of "How can this connect me to the rest of generally-benevolent humanity?" but through the lens of "How can this be used against me?"
And rightly so. Kids I observe learned well from our mistakes and they know better than giving away their real data, posting their photos etc. I was stunned to hear from a 10-year old "but this review is obviously fake, anyone can write what they want on the internet to trick you into buying something." I guess they're better prepared to deal with the digital world.
You realize that every generation has said that about the previous one? The details of what they are complaining about change slightly, but the attitude is universal to all generations.
I didn’t want a phone as a kid. That doesn’t mean I didn’t spend tons of time on the computer instead.
A kid not liking pop music or social media is probably extremely common. Heck a lot of 11 year olds aren’t emotionally developed in such a way that they really care about any music at all.
"He didn’t like seeing pictures of him, or anyone else he knew, online."
That explains it - but I don't think it is a good model to follow for protecting kids from the internet.
1. They’re infantilizing, a set of digital apron strings meant to attach you to your mother. (He was onto something there.)
2. They compromise a boy’s resourcefulness because kids come to rely on the GPS instead of learning Scout skills.
3. They make people trivial.
That's one smart kid.
The article is not explicit on this point, it does not claim she interpreted them, the article says: “As I learned on his birthday, my son had decided three things about smartphones.“ That wording does imply they may have had a conversation, on his birthday, which is now being summarized. That implication is reinforced with “(He was onto something there)” because it implies he stated an objection to being monitored.
I don't think that the kid is a super genius or that the article is 100% verbatim or even 100% real (there are no articles like that anymore).
It's sort of a built-in societal balance mechanism; no matter how far one generation pushes a particular set of values or behaviors, you can expect the following generation to push back against it.
A couple of the children without phones have been very proud of the fact they don't have phones. They'll readily tell you they don't need one and don't want one.
Now, I have no clue if these children were in truth allowed phones by their parents, or how they would react if actually offered one. But they certainly seemed to be doing fine.
So, yes, I found the story plenty believable.
P.S. If it sounds like a crappy situation where only one kid is left without a phone, I don't disagree, but it's mostly out of my control. As I said, some children are completely fine with it, but I had one this past summer who was not.
Giving kids too much responsibility or credit does not help them further down their lives, but at the same time disregarding them entirely because they're kids will do irreparable damage to their self esteem.
For reasonable definitions of "less smart", yes, you were. There's a lot of work on child development, and it does not support the idea that an 11-year-old is as fully equipped as an adult. Piaget's child development stages is an accessible overview if you want a nice Googleable term. Modern academics would quibble with various aspects but from what I can see a lot of the general ideas one would get from a quick breeze-through are still a reasonable start.
I'm actually pretty close to first in line to say that we underestimate children... buuuut, at the same time, no, they are not just little adults that are getting suppressed by The Man or whatever. They really aren't anywhere near fully developed yet, and are as a population, generally incapable of many things no matter how hard you tried to push them. And even if you do find an individual 11-year-old that, say, is fine with calculus, in another 10 years they'll be even more developed.
According to The Male Brain, by psychiatrist Louann Brizendine, males have 2.5x the space devoted to sexual drive in the hypothalamus compared to females.
By the time males reach puberty, guy’s sexual occupation and fertile female tracking circuits run in the background non-stop like an unkillable daemon process.
That’s absolutely going to divert brainpower.
Could be true though, kids can be renitent and are generally smarter than people think.
Without question most people today (myself included) upload their private photos and videos to "free" cloud services without a second thought of what these may be used for. Technologies like facial recognition, deep fakes etc. are only in their infancy, but it doesn't take much imagination to see the next generation launching a counter culture, partly because that's just what young people do, to later look back at the "digital natives" with the smug realization that they never saw any of it coming despite the signs being obvious.
Parents today love to concern themselves with "screen time" and other pointless measurements of how "genuine" (read: how similar to their own) the childhood of their own kids is, but they couldn't care less about how their own bank accounts, personal photos and phone calls slowly are slipping into the semi-public domain.
Maybe it's just my own penchant for cyberpunk talking, but I have a hard time seeing how the subcultures of the future won't turn against these "convenient" sacrifices that regular people make on a daily basis, using their own privacy as currency. Just ask any young person what they think about Facebook and you'll get the idea -- it's for old people.
Firstly, while I can understand some background info, I don't feel like her entire digital biography is needed to tackle this subject. Second, I can't help but think that her kids are acting the way they do as a response to their mother's behavior.
> They’d create formidable, indomitable avatars with vast powers and an absolute immunity to scams, trolls, and disinformation. Their avatars, one day, would heroically match wits with J.K. Rowling and Soledad O’Brien, or whatever luminaries would dominate Twitter in the future.
Am I the only one who thinks this is strange? What parent wants their kids to be some ... internet celebrity on the worst platform in the world? Seems kind of sad to me.
I have a feeling this woman is incessant and obsessed when it comes to technology and that her kids don't want to become their mother.
One of them introduced me to the Light Phone (https://www.thelightphone.com/) which seems like it is in a similar vein, even if it costs more than a 10 year old flip phone.
I wonder if this trend away from the "always-on" status quo will continue in the future.
IMHO people spend far too much time on their phones, and other devices. My devices are for work, they're rarely for play (yes, the occasional video game), but there's an intense reality that I now have real conversations with people - and they're much more authentic, even about their time.
I meet people for meals, for drinks, for a walk. I find out about their lives, and share my own - as opposed to skulking them on InstaFaceTwitterGram. For me it works - for others it might not. Fair enough.
I am not convinced. Not saying he is a retard of course, but that his aversion for smartphones is not a positive trait.
Smartphones are incredibly useful tools. Very empowering when used well. It is the abuse that is bad. Refusing to have one is admitting that you can't handle it. Better than being addicted, but not as good as reasonable use.
Another aspect is cultural. All other kids grew with smartphones, they have a common experience of memes, apps, and whatever is popular. Part of that culture he will be lacking, and he may feel himself excluded from conversations, and maybe even considered a bit weird. Not a huge deal, but that's something to consider. And no, lacking "stupid" cultural references is never a good thing, no matter how inane you think these things are.
That your kid doesn't want a smartphone when other kids do is not something I would consider alarming or even something that should be corrected. But it is not something worth bragging about IMHO. It is just a personality quirk.
Her children are not her chattel to do with as she sees fit they are human beings with thoughts and feelings of their own that need to be respected.
...to the point it makes me doubt how much truth there is to the story. It very much reads like a classical hero's journey - which "involves a hero [the mother] who goes on an adventure [tech-full parenting], and in a decisive crisis [lost her phone charger while finding herself in the middle of nowhere] wins a victory [has a deep moment of connection with her tech-rejecting son], and then comes home changed or transformed [see the last paragraph]."
(I still liked the story, though.)
Is the whole thing a novel/fantasy or does that smart kid really exist ?
Go kid !
The mother is full on accepting of her son and use it to question her own motives in life. As a parent, I found the read very refreshing.
I got the feeling from the article that she didn’t understand her sons point of view.
The only reason you know how smart her kid is, is because she wrote an entire article telling everyone how smart her kid is.
It's just that most of the comments in this thread were about rationality :-) They were about how refusing a smartphone is a _smart_ thing to do.
Recently our 9-year old wasn't sure how to spell a particular word, so I suggested we look it up in a (printed) dictionary. He didn't think it would be in there(!) He was surprised at my confidence it would be. Of course, we found it.
He hadn't even considered that almost all the words he uses every single day are sitting in a book on our bookshelf, listed in neat alphabetical order, just waiting for him.
But we had all that growing up 40 years ago. The internet has made people stupider, as a culture. People learn less because you can just look it up. Yes, you can. It's much easier to look stuff up, but that means people are retaining less themselves.
It might be easier, but it's not easy. I see people giving up on searches because they are not able to formulate what they are looking for. Maybe that opens a whole different set of problems.
In fairness, a number of things I've read about here on HN and experiences have led me to believe the quality of search engine results has declined as well
I didn't in university either. I was uncomfortable with the idea of my location being tracked, and the idea that I could be interrupted by a call at any time.
Every once in a while, leave your phone at home when you go somewhere. Every step you take, you can think to yourself "yeah, try to track me now, chumps". Pay cash for all your purchases. Refuse to give real information to anybody. You're a digital phantom now!
The only thing you can't get from a less-trackable non-phone device is cellular network connectivity. And you can sort of get around that with gratis wi-fi connections, if you're careful to de-fingerprint your device. I'm imagining a handheld qubes/tails. It would be nice to have a less-centralized mesh network that explicitly valued peer confidentiality, but apparently there's no profit in it yet.