Digital Generation Will Lead Change by Don Tapscott A lot of parents, employers and professors are angry about today's youth. They argue that young people are net-addicted, inattentive and losing their social skills. They are also narcissistic, and a new book even calls them the "Dumbest Generation." My research says none of this is true. I am optimistic about the potential of young people today. I call them the Net Generation, since these older teenagers and young adults are so bathed in bits that they think the Internet is part of 5 the natural landscape. To them, digital technology is no more intimidating than a refrigeratoror toaster. For the first time in history, children are more comfortable, knowledgeable and literate than their parents about aninnovation central to society.And it is through the use of the digital media that the Net Generation will develop and superimpose its culture on the rest of society.Evidence is mounting that kids can juggle multiple sensoryinputs much more easily than older adults. Rather than our childrenhaving dysfunctional brains that can't focus, young people are developing brains that are more appropriate for our fast-paced, complex world. When baby boomers were young they spent many hours a day staring at a television screen, and this passive behaviour influenced the kind of brains they developed. Today, young people spend an equivalent amount of time with digital technologies-being the user, the actor, the collaborator, the initiator,the remember, the organizer – which gives them a different kind of brain. The interactive games that young people play today requireboth team-building and strategic skills. Learning a game and having died (virtually) a hundred times before winning makes them far more determined and more likely to try new ideas and take calculated risks. Young people collaborate constantly through online chats, multi-user video games, and more recently text messages, Facebook and Twitter. For teenagers today, doing their homework is a social and collaborative event involving text messages, instant messages and Facebook walls to discuss problems while the iPod plays in the background. Already, these kids are learning, playing, communicating, working and creating communities very differently than their parents. They are a force for social transformation. The main interest of the Net Generation is not technology, but what can be done with that technology. I think they are smart, have great values, know how to use collaborative tools, and are well equippedto address many of the big challenges and problems that my generation is leaving them. Overall, their brains are more appropriate for the complex demands of the 21st century.