In 2009, Don Tapscott published an updated version of his best-selling 1997 book ‘Growing up digital’ which covered the emergence of what he called ‘the Net Generation’. A reason for the update was that the behavioral changes had been more profound and the speed of change faster than could have been predicted.
Early studies showed that playing action video games increases one’s ability to gather information and also increases the speed at which an individual can process visual information. There was also evidence that digital immersion has a positive impact on brain development.
Additionally some profound physical changes were being observed in the brains of this new generation of 15 to 25-year-olds. Studies supported Tapscott’s notion that a brain region which is used continually and intensely responds like a muscle and increases in size and efficiency. Now it seems that the brains of the Net Generation really are evolving to be physically very different.
A research project at UCLA in California has concluded that neural processes in 15 to 25-year-olds are on average 30% faster than older sample groups, and that they can process three times the number of concurrent activities – compared to their parents – without any observable impact on cognitive abilities.
“As the first global generation ever, the Net Geners are smarter, quicker and more tolerant of diversity than their predecessors,” Tapscott argued. “These empowered young people are beginning to transform every institution of modern life.”
“It is clear that technology has not only altered our lives, it’s altered our brains – and is creating a new species of Homo sapiens,” says neuroscientist Gary Small.
In the animal kingdom, being the first of a new species, one challenge is finding someone to mate with. This shouldn’t be a problem in this case as almost a billion young people already have the evolutionary characteristics in their brains to seek out others of similar persuasions. They also have all the social networking skills they need.
Happy hunting for that mate. Darwin would be proud of your desire to propagate the new species.
ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be
The following is an extract from FutureWorld’s ‘Thriving on Turbulence’ keynote and workshop theme which asks:
“What’s different about the Net Generation?”
The two key questions that business must ask are:
1. What happens when they become your core consumers? They will certainly demand (what you consider to be) ‘unreasonable’, open behaviour.
2. What happens when they become core to your business? Will they join your business, only to ask: “Who are these co-workers of ours? They ask us to switch off our Blackberrys! They’re asking us to stop breathing!”