MySpace Generation: Why the Hype and Hysteria?Whether texting, messaging or gaming, today's teenagers seem to be truly 'digital natives'. Young people have adopted digital technologies into their lives like no other age group. Their use of - and access to - a growing range of mobile technologies and online web facilities such as MSN, MySpace and YouTube appears to justify all the hype.Society seems in awe of youths' technological aptitude and appetite. Everyone from marketers to politicians to teachers stalks teenagers' online habits, and seizes on the latest craze. This new generation of technological whizkids is heralded as the key to innovation where traditional R&D has floundered. Policy pundits suggest that in the face of social fragmentation, re-forging community may be done by imitating students' use of Facebook. Teachers concede they must take lessons from their pupils in novel ways of accessing knowledge - something which is claimed to have impact at the neurological level. But is flattering and imitating teenage mores becoming a distraction from more ambitious technological innovation based on the aspirations of adults?On the other hand, when not lauding 'Digital Kids', loathing is fashionable. Many seem ambivalent over whether new technologies are a social benefit or a toxic influence on the young that can't be controlled by adults. Panics abound over the salacious content of sites such as Bebo - whether revealing young people's penchant for binge drinking or irreverent slanders of their teachers. New online bogeymen are cited as putting the young at risk - from groomers to party gatecrashers. Schools and universities blame new technology for a rise in plagiarism. The media highlight malign uses of mobile phones, like 'happy slapping' or text bullying. Is technology a scapegoat for the immature pranks that have always been a feature of growing up? Or does youth immersion in new technologies introduce a real generation gap? - Institute of Ideasmoreless
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