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Generation Gaps in Internet and Computer Use: Informing Our Young People

Internet Did Not Exist in Past Generations

Tech gadgets of the current generation, which were not available just a few decades ago, include notebooks and iPhones.

Tech gadgets of the current generation, which were not available just a few decades ago, include notebooks and iPhones.

Update on Generation Gaps: Technology Continues to Change

Word Prompt – Generation

In response to fellow writer, Brenda Arledge’s 58th Word Prompt “Generation,” I’ve decided to resurrect this article I wrote 10 years ago, about a week after I joined HubPages. As a new member of the writing community, the article was well received and garnered me the coveted Rising Star Award for promising HP writer.

In my opinion, the content is somewhat timeless and addresses the word prompt exercise Brenda has given us. What makes it timeless is that technology continues to change as Baby Boomers (and some Millennials) continue to play catch-up with what’s new and what’s obsolete, as we learn to navigate through a constantly changing world.

Within the last ten years alone, so many new technologies have been created to make every aspect of life faster, easier and more user-friendly. Some of these include Fire Sticks, 3D Printing, Virtual and Augmented Reality, AirTags, 5G and the ever-present Alexa, just to name a few. These technologies increase productivity while keeping the heads of older generations (like mine) spinning in awe.

The following article about a conversation with my nephews will make you laugh as it did them. We talked about how my generation did not have internet, computers or laptops in college to do our work. Enjoy!

The Technological Generation Gap: Having a Conversation

I had the most amazing conversation with some young people the other day about getting schoolwork done. We talked about the use of books, computers, internet, and iPhones. It was funny to hear them complain about how much work they had to do, how many books they had to buy, and how they get their research papers done.

The conversation ended up being a humorous one. We made comparisons of how I got through school without the "luxuries" they have available to them today.

I shared with them how in the late seventies through the mid-eighties, I did it without a computer or the internet. I predicted in jest how they would most certainly have failed out of college if they were forced to operate under those conditions today.

A Very Old Typewriter

The typewriter was used to put out many term papers back in the day, with no such thing as computer access.

The typewriter was used to put out many term papers back in the day, with no such thing as computer access.

A Generation Without Internet and Computer Technology

They asked: "How did you do it without a computer?"

My then 22 year old twin nephews and their 19 year old female friend thought it was hilarious and unconscionable that I would be expected to get through high school and college, writing papers and doing research without the internet.

They could not fathom how I wrote a paper without a computer. I told them that we used typewriters and data processors that you had to dial-up. Huh?

The next question one nephew asked was, "What if you made a mistake?" The other chimed in, "How did you make corrections . . . correction tape?" I told them I did use correction tape. But I also explained that you didn't make a lot of mistakes once you were ready to type your paper.

In those days, you wrote out your 20-page paper by hand, cut and paste with real scissors and scotch tape, then read from that as you typed.

They just looked at me incredulously with a pause, then laughed.

Books Were Used for Research

In the past, hardcopy books were the primary source of information for students doing research for papers.

In the past, hardcopy books were the primary source of information for students doing research for papers.

Stacks of Books Were Searched for Information

Hot library stacks were places where information was searched for and gathered.

Hot library stacks were places where information was searched for and gathered.

The Generation Without Internet Access

They wondered: "You read books in a library?"

We then moved on to discuss doing research, writing bibliographies, quoting sources, going to libraries, etc. They could not believe that I actually had to go to libraries, up into the stacks, find a particular book, and make sure that I had enough dimes on me to make copies of the pages I needed.

"What? Are you serious?!" Again, those incredulous looks. "Yes," I explained to them, you had to physically go to the library because, again, there was no computer, much less the internet, in my dorm room.

After you gathered all the information for your paper, I went on to explain, you had to write a bibliography. "Write it out?", my nephew said. "You can just plug all that into a program now that will make the bibliography for you." "Oh, really," I said. "Well, we had to do it by hand and use proper style (mine was APA) or risk getting points taken off of our grade."

They laughed out loud when I told them that I actually had to open the pages of the inside cover of the book to locate the copyright date, publisher, and location of the publishing company to list the source.

Writing Pad and Pen Used for Study

Writing tablets, notebooks, and pens were the only tools used in class for note-taking.

Writing tablets, notebooks, and pens were the only tools used in class for note-taking.

Students Cannot Live Without a Search Engine

They pondered: "You did research without the internet?"

On using and quoting sources as short cuts to getting papers done, we agreed that it has become more lax and acceptable to get information online and use it without much hands-on research or credit to the source.

I told them that our shortcuts were called "Cliff Notes." Their friend had heard of it, they had, but vaguely.

I explained to them what they were and how I used them once or twice because I didn't have time to finish reading a particular book.

One nephew responded by saying, "Well, if you got it from the Cliffs Notes, that's a book, so that's okay, right?" This time, I had the incredulous look on my face.

In Appreciation of Internet Access and Today's Technology

Needless to say this was an informing conversation for me and three young people under the age of 25, who are the products of a technologically advanced generation that came after mine.

I realize that I am in a group that I affectionately and respectfully refer to as the "last of the Mohicans."

It's only been within the last few years that I've begun to actively embrace social media, Kindles, iPhones, and all that the internet and computer technology has to offer. I've developed a greater appreciation for the genius of Steve Jobs and how his inventions, particularly, the personal computer, literally changed the world.

At the end of our discussion, I did express to them that because of the hands-on work that we had to do, we are a generation that is more conscientious, more diligent, and more committed about what we produce and how we present our work.

We had to adhere to a level of discipline without much choice. They agreed, wholeheartedly.

But at the end of the day, we are all thanking God for the conveniences of the internet, iPhones, tablets and laptops!

Research and Study Skills for College Students

  • Study Skills For College Students [Guides]
    Do studying, quizzes, or tests stress you out? These study skills for college students will help you learn how to study smarter, not harder. Learn valuable study skills and tips to improve your time management, test taking, memory and retention, and

Your Generation and Technology

The Generation Gap: Technology, Communication, and Social Media

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2012 Janis Leslie Evans