Tomorrow’s news consumers

At one of the most talked-about panels at the 2006 Online News Association conference, four kids from affluent schools in the Washington, D.C., area talked about how they use computers, mobile devices and TV.

Barbara Iverson blogged this session in detail. If you missed this panel, you will probably enjoy Barbara’s post a lot. All the people around me laughed often and took copious notes throughout. As someone who works with 20-year-olds every day, I wasn’t very surprised by what I heard. But apparently a lot of journalists in the newsroom don’t know what kids these days are about. (Sad, isn’t it?)

Many people listening to the panel evidently had never heard of the digital natives / digital immigrants idea. It comes from a very readable article (PDF file) published in 2001. The ideas are summed up wonderfully on this well-organized resource page from the Boise Public Library.

There are 60 million of these so-called millennials in the United States, born between 1982 and 2000. Surely you should know something about them.

Today’s average college grads have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives reading, but over 10,000 hours playing video games (not to mention 20,000 hours watching TV). Computer games, email, the Internet, cell phones and instant messaging are integral parts of their lives.

It is now clear that as a result of this ubiquitous environment and the sheer volume of their interaction with it, today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. These differences go far further and deeper than most educators [and journalists] suspect or realize. (Source: Prensky, 2001)

Here’s the coverage of the panel from the ONA student journalists.

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3 Comments on “Tomorrow’s news consumers

  1. I, too, was surprised that many of the people at the ONA conference were surprised by what these youngsters were saying.

    I don’t know whether to be more concerned by the views of the youth, or by the fact that many newspaper executives seem oblivious to how the young get their news.

  2. And you wondered why one of my first projects was a spaceship flying around zapping stuff…

    I won one of those Blockbuster Video championships at a store near my house when I was about 11 years old!

  3. I don’t even know what a “Blockbuster Video championship” is!

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