To write this blog entry I’ve got to introduce a couple of bits of information about myself, firstly I’m a bit of a technology geek which is perhaps obvious if you’ve read all my blog entries about the technology behind the web that I’ve been writing recently. The other piece of information is that I’m a father of 2 boys, one 18, the other 11.
As my kids have grown up, they’ve always had computers around them, and while daddy has his own computer to work on, there’s a shared computer that anyone can use in the living room (so their use can be monitored), and more recently a computer they share upstairs.
Now, I grew up fascinated by computers, while as a kid I watched movies, I knew that I could never grow up and buy the starship Enterprise, or the Millenium Falcon to be a space pilot, I’d never get a light saber and be a Jedi. However, the movie Wargames, with it’s lead character who was a hacker, was something that I could actually do. So that christmas (I was 12 years old) I asked for a computer. And my use of computer came from making them do what I wanted, I learned to program before I even got a computer, borrowing books from the local library and writing out games and applications in old school jotters.
And I assumed that my sons having access to computers would have an interest in a very similar way, that they would want to know how to get these machines to do whatever they want, that they would want to learn to make things on them, but while are both very IT literate, they’ve not gone down that path at all.
But the way they use computers is far more integrated into their attitudes, and has amazed me. They communicate with them.
My sister lives in South Wales with her family, both my sons chat almost daily with their cousins many hundreds of miles distant, the older ones discuss politics, news and probably girlfriends, the younger just chat about games. They all play online games with each other, giant tournaments of Civilization 5, with players here in Scotland, and in Wales, setting up when they’re playing, gaming until someone’s bed time occurs, and then picking up again a day or two later. The hundreds of miles between them doesn’t stop them being best friends, a situation foreign to me since I don’t even think I can name all my cousins.
They have shared experiences and a connection with family, which continues as they are starting to move off in life (one of my nephews is learning to be a pilot in Europe at the moment, and still remains part of this shared group).
The old promise of my generation when we were trying to convince our parents to buy us a computer has also come true “It’ll help with my homework.”, I’ll see my sons sitting on facebook chat to their friends asking about a certain question they’ve got as homework, sharing notes and web pages pertinent to the question.
And while I’m at work, around 3pm each day, the messenger app on my desktop would ping, and my son would ask me how my day was going, and I could ask him about his, so even though I was working at that moment over 30 miles away, I was still there for him (even for silly questions like I can’t find the TV remote).
Communications Technology is an amazing thing, and kids are using it in ways I’d never even considered when I was young, if I’d known the internet was going to exist, I’d have thought maybe I could do homework on it by accessing databases and information, but this generation are using it to talk and connect and help each other in so many ways.
The question is, what will they bring to the workplace with this innate use of communications technology, and how will it change the workplace, all I know is it’ll be fascinating to watch as we all have to struggle to keep up.