SCOTT SIMON, Host:
Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, says that today generations may change every few years because new technology creates substantially different experiences every few years.
NPR W: Thank so much for being with us.
LARRY ROSEN: Thank you for having me on.
SIMON: So how are, I don't know, today's 12-year-olds a whole generation different from 18-year-olds or five-year-olds?
ROSEN: Well, one of the interesting things about the teenage generation, the iGeneration...
ROSEN: ...they have learned technology basically from birth. They want to be able to text on mom or dad's phone as soon as they can grab the phone. Whereas the generation just above them, their older brothers and sisters in the Net generation, they certainly came to technology at some point but not as young and not as overwhelmingly prevalent in their lives.
SIMON: And what difference does this make though? Or what differences does it make? Because you lay out a quite a few.
ROSEN: Well, first of all, the little I in iGeneration stands for both things like the iPod or the iPhone or the Wii, but it also really stands for individualized. And this generation has gotten very used to having things their way. They want all their technology individualized and they want it all available all the time.
SIMON: I was fascinated by what you say in the book about their adroitness at multitasking.
ROSEN: I see my students texting a lot, and I will often stop then and ask them, Did you just understand what I just said? And they can repeat back verbatim what I said. So they're clearly paying attention.
SIMON: There's so many technologies that enable youngsters nowadays to create their own content. But you know, I guarantee you, no 13-year-old I've ever met can at this point in their lives write a book that's as good or as necessary or important for them to read as anything written by, fill in the blank, Judy Blume, J.D. Salinger. And those books are what take them into other skins and other experiences.
ROSEN: Parents need to recognize that their kids do need these experiences. They can't let them just sit in their rooms and be online all the time because they're quiet. They need to engage them. They need to talk to them. And I think, sadly, in too many families from our research we find that parents are very happy that their kids are in their bedrooms quiet, therefore they can feel comfortable their kids are safe, when in fact their kids are really developing a mindset that their only thing in the world is technological and media driven where it shouldn't be. There has to be a balance.
SIMON: Thanks so much.
ROSEN: Thanks for having me on you show.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.