The Net Generation

The Net Generation

Louis Leung (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China) and Cindy Pei Zheng (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0315-8.ch017
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This article reviewed Net Generation attributes and examined how these attributes are linked to cyber behavior. Net Geners are global citizens and emotionally open. They believe deeply that they have rights and freedom to information and learning. Being technologically savvy, they are natural collaborators in school projects, entertainment, and work. Net Geners are also prosumers, which means that aside from being frequent consumers, they can co-produce, and co-create contents, products, and services with interested parties. The ability to customize and personalize a product or an application is important to the Net Generation. Net Geners expect speed and instant gratifications in everything they do and are good at multitasking. The Net Generation is impatient, and Net Geners think that e-mails are too slow, as they are asynchronous. How these attributes are linked to Net Geners’ learning, entertainment, and social relationships is discussed.
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One of the pioneers who proposed the concept of the Net Generation was Don Tapscott. In his book, Growing up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation (1998), Tapscott characterized different generation cohorts primarily as Baby Boomer, Baby Bust, Echo Boomer, and the Net Generation (or sometimes called the Y Generation). A Baby Boomer is anyone born between 1946 and 1964, after the end of the Second World War, when the after-war economy was thriving once again. The Baby Boomers, representing 23 percent of the U.S. population, were the first generation raised with television.

Following the boom, birth rates fell dramatically, with 15 percent fewer babies born in the next 10 years (Tapscott, 1998). These babies were named “Baby Bust” or Generation X (i.e., those born between 1965 and 1976); the “X” stands for the feeling of being excluded from society and less competitive in the job market. Given their media diet, Gen Xers are highly media-centered and regularly consume radio, TV, film, and the Internet. Now in their thirties and forties, and representing 15 percent of the population, the experiences of Generation X are good indicators of how the future generation will master the digital universe.

Next came the echo of the Baby Boom, or the Echo Boomer. Tapscott named this generation according to its defining characteristics, because, according to him, naming this generation according to the timeline, such as Millennials or Generation Y, diminished its importance in the larger scheme of things. Therefore, the term “Net Generation” (those born between 1977 and 1997) is the one that most precisely described this generation, as it was the first generation bathed in bits. The Net Generation differs from the boomers in various respects, like entertainment, study, consumption, work, and family values (Djamasbi, Siegel, & Tullis, 2010). It was tagged as a generation because its members grew up with the Internet; thus, they came to view such technology as part of their lives.

Finally, anyone born between January 1998 and the present, Tapscott called “Generation Next” or Generation Z. These are the digital children under 14 years of age, who represent 13.4 percent of the U.S. population. Like the Net Generation, Gen Zers are intensely technologically literate and heavily embedded in social media in everything they do (Leung, 2010; Leung & Lee, 2011).

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