I was looking out a restaurant window last Wednesday evening when an SUV pulled up and stopped in the parking lot. Mom was apparently letting her two daughters out to enter the restaurant while she parked the vehicle.
I could see one daughter, a high schooler I’d guess, opening the side door to help her younger sister out. They both came around the back of the SUV and crossed the parking lot in route to the front door of the restaurant.
Like ducks in a row, the older led the younger. The older girl, about 15 or 16, was texting like crazy as she walked unconcerned across the parking lot. Her little sister, who could not have been more than 4 years old, was doing the same thing on what I assume was a toy cell phone.
There’s the future, I thought. That is, if fortunately for them, no speeding vehicle shortens their days, because each was too absorbed in her texting to notice little things like oncoming traffic.
But it’s not just young people. A dear friend from Canada told me that at an early movie this past Saturday night, her party noticed a young man sitting alone using his Blackberry throughout the movie.
In Japan, 20 percent of high school girls have not only one, but two, cell phones, and some own even more. These teenagers stay on the phone “all the time” as one of them put it.
The Pew Research Center finds that 75 percent of Americans ages 12 to 17 own a cell phone, and the age at which kids gettheir first phone is dropping. If what I saw at the restaurant is any gauge, it is dropping really low.
Pew reports that 66 percent of users use their phones for texting. It is sometimes carried to extremes, like the Japanese teenagers who use Ziploc bags to keep their phones waterproof while they use them in the bath.
Web 2.o technologies are extraordinary. We are able to communicate in ways we could not have imagined just a few years ago. But what does it all mean? Just because we can text in the shower, does that make it a desirable thing to do?
What concerns me most is how technology is used by my mostly Millennial Generation students now and in the future. Web 2.0 technologies are exciting and capable, but harnessing them to be useful in strategic communication/public relations is essential.
There is much to know about such topics as using social media to successfully support integrated marketing communication programs.
The conflict will accelerate: businesses believe Millennial Generation students are inherently tech-savvy and hire them expecting quick results. Not so. They are not.
And to be honest, college prep is lagging way behind. We must find more and better ways of preparing students for the real world of work they will face.
Innovative waterproofing to allow shower texting is funny, but not being able to deliver the requisite technological skills on the job isn’t.