I was playing with my 5 year-old niece the other day as she prepared for a busy day of frolicking and fun. As adults often do to kids I decided to give her one of those slightly condescending quizzes testing her basic knowledge of things like where she lived etc…
“Whats your mothers name?” I asked. She gave me a bored look and answered with her mothers full name, her fathers full name and threw in her full name for good measure. “Whats your phone number?” I continue, oblivious to her growing annoyance at being treated like a 4 year old. This one got her, she thinks for a bit and then mumbles “four… five… nine…” the right numbers were coming out but in the wrong order and she was getting frustrated. So rather then push it I changed the question and ask “Whats your address?” Her eyes beam, she knows this one and is gonna redeem herself, she blurts out with a knowing pride “firstname.lastname@example.org” .
Not only does this 5 year old have an email address, its the first thing she thinks of when asked about her address. She’s five! What other digital services are going to replace their physical equivalents in her mind? Will lost children in shopping malls across American be giving out their parents email addresses to over-worked security guards? The thing that this little incident made clear to me was that the digital generation wont be consuming media the way we do.
Media companies want to duplicate the behaviors of a generation that grew up with albums and VCR’s and force these behaviors on people that are growing up with in-Car DVD’s and MP3′s. It doesnt take a seer to understand that it just wont work.