Larry Rosen: New Book Looks at the “iGeneration”
In his upcoming book, “Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way they Learn,” professor of psychology Larry Rosen examines the age group that was born in the 1990s and the way they communicate mainly through text messaging and instant messenger networks.
Rosen, whose 2007 book, “Me, MySpace, and I: Parenting the Net Generation” focused on the online socialization of young people (who are now in their 20s), says that their younger siblings now expect even quicker responses to their communiqués, pay less attention to television and e-mail, and don’t use the phone as a means of communication.
“They’ll want their teachers and professors to respond to them immediately, and they will expect instantaneous access to everyone, because after all, that is the experience they have growing up,” he was quoted as saying in a New York Times article last month. “They should be just like their older brothers and sisters, but they are not.”
In “The Global Impact of the Technological Revolution,” a course that Rosen is teaching this semester in the University Theatre, he discusses the ability of the iGeneration to multitask. He says that his research has shown evidence that what seems like a divided attention span, such as texting while watching a video they will be tested on, does not affect students’ comprehension.
“Children and teens think that multitasking is the norm,” he says. “They don’t feel that impedes their ability to do anything well. From an adult point of view, we can’t understand how someone can do homework, listen to music and text friends, all while posting on Facebook.”
Rosen says that the iGeneration is “all about connection” but that parents and educators have to know how to reach them with the technology that they are most comfortable with.
“Parents and family members need to recognize that the old ways of connecting don’t work with this younger generation,” he says. “iGeners are happy to respond to a text or a Facebook comment, but they won’t pick up the phone or return e-mail. You can, however, text them to tell them to check their e-mail or voicemail and they might respond that way.”
Despite the illusion of widening the generation gap due to technology, Rosen says that social networks have gone a long way in opening up greater communication in families across the traditional generational divides.
“Look at someone’s Facebook page and their friends include Mom, Dad, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and long-lost elementary school friends,” he notes. “What better way to connect and play on a somewhat level turf?”
Rosen was recently quoted in USA Today in the article, “Tech-savvy 'iGeneration' kids multi-task, connect.” “Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn” will be released in March by Palgrave Macmillan.
- Joanie Harmon