The Net Generation Illusion: Challenging Conformance to Social Expectations

The Net Generation Illusion: Challenging Conformance to Social Expectations

Rachel Ellaway (Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Canada) and Janet Tworek (University of Calgary, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-347-8.ch018
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The Netgen Meme

We use Dawkins’ concept of a ‘meme’ (1976) as representing cognitive concepts and models that are transferred between minds and adapted across sociocultural contexts. The idea of the Net Generation has taken on memetic qualities; a complex mix of beliefs, interpretations and frames regarding generational capabilities associated with using digital media. More specifically, the NetGen meme is founded on a binary differentiation between a ‘digital native’ youth who are intrinsically able to function in new media environments and their ‘digital immigrant’ seniors who can only aspire to the same levels of ability. The analysis of a literature review for “Net Generation” (using ERIC, PsycINFO, and Academic Search Complete) returned multiple texts that, upon review, cited the same core references (Tworek, 2007). Table 1 summarizes the key texts that created the grounding for the NetGen meme along with more recent publications (Ito, Baumer, Bittanti, Boyd, Cody & Herr, 2009; Rideout, Foehr & Roberts, 2010).

Table 1.
Principal published works that establish the Net Generation meme
AuthorGeneration Birth YearsNameEvidence
Tapscott (1997) 1977-1997Media GenerationOnline chat with 28 teens
Rideout et al, 1999, Rideout, Foehr and Roberts (2005), Rideout, Foehr and Roberts (2010)“young people aged 8 to 18”Gen M1999 report: 2,065 children aged 8-18
2004 report: 2,032 students ages 8-18
2009 report: 2002 students ages 8–18
Howe and Strauss (2000) 1982 - 2000Millenials500 high school seniors in southeastern U.S.
Prensky (2001) unspecifiedDigital NativesExposure to media
Beck and Wade (2004) 1975 - 2004Gaming GenerationPlaying video games
Survey business leaders
Kent and Facer (2004) “young people ages 9 – 18”Young peopleSurvey in 2001: n=1818
Survey in 2003: n= 1471
Group semi-structured interviews: n=192
Family interviews: n=19 (representing 11 families)
Dede (2005) unspecifiedNeomillenialsExposure to media
Oblinger and Oblinger (2005) 1982–1991Net GenerationExposure to media
Ito, et al. (2009) “Under the age of 25” in 2005Digital Youth659 semi-structured interviews, 28 diary studies, focus group
interviews with 67 participants; 78 interviews; 363 survey respondents; 5,194 observation hours;
10,468 profiles on social sites; 15 online discussion group forums, and more than 389 videos.

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