Growing Up Digital : The Rise of the Net Generation
by Don Tapscott

Tapscott, who coined the term "Net Generation, " profiles this new group and tells how its use of digital technology is reshaping the way society and individuals interact. 15 illustrations.

The author, Don Tapscott , 09/14/97:
What the book is all about.
The Net-Generation is here. The baby boom has an echo it's even louder than the original. The 85 million boomer adults in the United States and Canada have been eclipsed by 88 million offspring. The youngest of these kids are still in diapers and the eldest are just turning 20. Similar echoes, albeit less strong, are happening in select countries in Europe, the Pacific Rim and developing world. What makes this generation different from all of its ancestors is not just its demographic muscle but that it is the first to grow up surrounded by digital media. Computers can be found in the home, school, factory and office and digital technologies such as cameras, video games and CD-ROMs are commonplace. Increasingly these new media are connected by the Internet, an expanding web of networks which is attracting a million new users monthly. Today's kids are so bathed in bits that they think it's all part of the natural landscape. To them the digital technology is no more intimidating than a VCR or toaste r. For the first time in history children are more comfortable, knowledgeable and literate than their parents about an innovation central to society. And it is through the use of the digital media that the N-Generation will develop and superimpose its c ulture on the rest of society. Boomers stand back. Already these kids are learning, playing, communicating, working and creating communities very differently than their parents. They are a force for social transformation. Moms and dads are reeling fro m the challenges of raising confident, plugged-in and digital-savvy children who know more about technology than they do. Few parents even know what their children are doing in cyberspace. School officials are grappling with the reality of students ofte n being far smarter on cyber-issues and new ways of learning than the teachers. Corporations are wondering what these kids will be like as employees since they are accustomed to very different ways of working, collaborating and creating and they reject ma ny basic assumptions of today's companies. Governments are lagging behind in thinking about the implications of this new generation on policies ranging from cyberporn and the delivery of social services to the implications of the N-Gen on the nature of g overnance and democracy. Marketers have little comprehension of how this wave will shop and influence purchases of goods and services. I believe (and attempt to show in the book) that there is no issue more important to parents, teachers, policy makers, marketers, business leaders and social activists than understanding what this younger generation intends to do with its digital expertise. This book is based on the belief that we can learn much about a whole generation which is in the process of embrac ing the new media from the children who are most advanced in their adoption of this technology.

The author, Don Tapscott , 06/24/97:

The baby boom has an echo and its louder than the origional. How the N-Gen is changing business, learning, culture, family, politics markets and society.

Customer Comments from New York, NY , 01/02/98, rating=10:
Among the most compelling and provocative books I've read.
Don Tapscott has written a landmark book on the new generation which is growing up digital. This is must reading for anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of our time and what the future holds for us in the next century. If only to understand our own children, the read is worth it. It's a roadmap for anyone who wants to educate, communicate or do commerce with N-Geners and with those who come under their influence. Written in lucid language, it's stimulating and thought provoking throughout. It may not sit well with those locked into the status quo, but if Tapscott is right, there is reason for great hope about the next generation. They'll do better and our world is going to benefit. from Asuncion, Paraguay , 12/11/97, rating=5:
Best before 1998
Tapscott's overview of the Net generation sounds interesting, although some facts make the book very little serious. Fortunately in the country I live you buy Sunday's newspapers on Saturday, so I didn't got much anoyed seeing McGraw-Hill's copyright da ted 1998. More serious is the fact that in the book you get statistics as of 1998 and references to 1997 are made as if it were last year. If you are a serious writer you don't need to be worried about the present becoming past before you enoughly enjoy it.

A Reader from Vancouver, Canada , 11/27/97, rating=7:
The Kids are All Right
Actual Rating: 7.5

Are computers and the Internet dangerous time-wasters, robbing kids of ‘real world’ experience, or are they valuable tools that will revolutionize our schools and actually increase the intelligence and knowledge of our kids?

Th e problem is that most people just don’t know. Our children are exploring places where many of us have never been and don’t understand, and we’re afraid they’re getting away from us. Can we trust them to make the right choices, to become the people we wan t them to be?

According to Don Tapscott, we can. In Growing Up Digital, he argues persuasively that today’s kids, or as he calls them, the Net Generation, are fundamentally different from and in many ways ahead of the generations before them. Digital technology has shaped them, just as television shaped their parents, the baby boomers. And it has done a better job than television, replacing a passive broadcast medium with an interactive, involving one. In short, he says, "the kids are all right.& quot;

There is a danger in technology writing; authors often get so carried away with the excitement they feel towards new technology and its possibilities that their books become little more than a compendium of gadgets and futuristic scenarios. Grow ing Up Digital is not immune from this tendency -- sometimes Tapscott writes breathlessly about such possibilities as intelligent search agents, virtual-reality shopping and computer-mediated education. Thankfully, however, these moments are tempered by a wealth of real-world case studies, anecdotes and interviews, and a very real sense of respect for his subjects as individuals.

And they are an articulate bunch of individuals indeed. Their words and actions reinforce his startling claim that exposur e to digital media, especially the Internet, is creating a generation who actually think differently.

Of course the enthusiasm and expertise kids have about these powerful new tools causes worry: many parents feel threatened or uneasy about their los s of control. This unease is at the root of some of the current media panic about the Internet. But Tapscott also describes families (including his own) where this situation has been used to bridge the generation gap. Parents and children can interact as equals, and in the act of educating and explaining things to parents, children gain self-respect and confidence.

The book covers a great deal of ground, and for the most part it succeeds. Tapscott correctly compares the media panic about the Internet to earlier panics about television, movies and rock music. He does a good job in deflecting one of the strongest criticisms of computers and the Internet, that kids who spend too much time with them are robbed of experience in the ‘real world.’ He lets th e kids answer, and their answer is "nonsense." In fact, most of them feel the opposite is true: they are more social, and have a wider range of interests than their peers who are not on-line.

Tapscott also explores how the Net Generation’s unique qualities will affect the world of work in the future, and details ways in which families can deal with fears about porn, pedophiles and pipe bombs without having to resort to heavy-handed methods such as censorship or computer bans. He also resist s the tendency of many in the technology industry to see free markets as some sort of perfect egalitarian force, admitting that there is a potentially dangerous ‘digital divide’ forming between rich and poor. His suggested solutions ask both governments a nd private industry to make stronger commitments to ensuring the people are not left behind in the rush to the digital future.

In the end, there’s a great deal to think about. For those ignorant of the world of computers and the Internet, much in her e will be eye-opening. And even for those who are already immersed in the wired world, the book provides an important and engaging look at the first generation that will grow up digital.