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

Updated on November 11, 2018
janshares profile image

Janis counseled many populations during her career including children and families in need of parenting skill assessment and interventions.

Internet Was Not Available to 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. | Source

The Technological Generation Gap: Having a Conversation

I had the most amazing conversation with some young people the other day about getting school work 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 nor 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, without computer access.
The typewriter was used to put out many term papers back in the day, without computer access. | Source

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

Hardcopy books were the primary source of information in the past for students doing research for papers.
Hardcopy books were the primary source of information in the past for students doing research for papers. | Source

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. | Source

The Generation Without Internet Access

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

We then moved on to 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. | Source

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!

Your Generation and Technology

What tools did you use to get you through school?

See results

The Generation Gap: Technology, Communication, and Social Media

© 2012 Janis Leslie Evans

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    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks much, Lisa. It was a delightful conversation. It's so true that they have no idea how much easier it is but yes, their challenges are quite different. I appreciate you reading this hub, glad you enjoyed the visit.

    • profile image

      LisaKeating 

      4 years ago

      I just retired from teaching high school, so I had many conversations like the one you describe here. My students couldn't believe that we had to do math without a calculator. I don't think the younger generation has it easier because they have all these tools; I think they have their own challenges with what to do with that information. Enjoyed this hub.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you very much for reading it, glad you found it useful.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      6 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you for the interesting hub, very useful:)

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks for stopping by and reading it, saitam. Glad you found it interesting. Your observations are good, things do change so fast.

    • saitam profile image

      saitam 

      6 years ago from Lisbon

      Your hub is really interesting

      I am 25 and I find the internet so useful, that sometimes I can only imagine how different things were before, and how different will be. My 17 years old cousin is already studying using different and new methods.

      Wikipedia is also changing the new methods of study and leaving some students lazier.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      So glad to hear that it had positive effects and that you enjoyed it. Thank you so much, for reading and voting :-)

    • Steve West profile image

      Steve West 

      6 years ago from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

      Your hub really brought me back and had me laugh out loud a couple of times. Good work.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Me too, Amanda (lol, lol, lol).

    • Amanda108 profile image

      Amanda 

      6 years ago from Michigan, United States

      I'm with you, Janshares! I'm sure there were many long-term benefits to writing and researching without electronics, but I'll keep my computer and smartphone, thanks!

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      You are both so right, Juanita and Paula. Thanks for your votes.

    • profile image

      Juanita Williams 

      6 years ago

      The time has really changed since we were in school. Your articles hit home for me.

    • profile image

      Paula Potts 

      6 years ago

      KUDOS Janis! What a great article! You have my vote! I think it will take at least another generation to reveal the net impact of the Internet Age on human behavior. It is important is that we learn from each other whatever we do and keep the conversations going. It is important to foster unity and harmony among God's people. The use of "all things Internet" is troubling as it relates to depth and character---which I think we build through human interaction. For the most part, Life is about relationships--mostly with people! Blessings!

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks, Denise. You are right, we definitely are. Thank you for your vote and support.

    • profile image

      Denise Greene 

      6 years ago

      Congrats Janis, nice job.. And yes those were the days, but I'm glad they've ended, it was torture compared to now...Now that I'm in graduate school after almost 20 years, it's unbelievable what we endured, but for what it's worth, I think it made us more disciplined. Good luck .

    • Cardia profile image

      Cardia 

      6 years ago from Barbados.

      Very interesting Hub!

      You made a really good point about how the use of computers and Internet has 'allowed' people to not give much credit (if any) for the information that they pull on the internet. Some people I know love to just write the name of the website in the bibliography and that's it.

      I myself am a college student, and I rely on my computer for nearly everything school related! Some of my professors prefer to be contacted via email.

      Actually, this year right before my big finals exams, my laptop suddenly died! I was devastated. I had to borrow my mother's laptop a lot and I think that was when it finally hit me how dependent I am on a computer for school.

      Overall, I really enjoyed reading this. Voted up, awesome and interesting :)

      Welcome to HubPages!

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 

      6 years ago from Kentucky

      Do you remember when handwriting was so important? There were even points deducted if your's was not legible enough for the teacher to read! Typewriters were something we all wanted, and the self correcting electrics that finally hit were gifts from God... when they worked! Times have definitely changed. For the better? Sometimes I wonder. Great Hub! Really enjoyed!

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks for the feedback, Thelma. Glad it brought back good memories. I hope it was interesting enough ;-)

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      6 years ago from Germany

      We did the same thing. I was in college in the 70´s and there was no computer yet. I did type my reports in a typewriter after doing everything like going to the library, writing my research in a bandpaper, editing it by hand before I did the final thing. Typing. It was an awesome thing to do but I´m thankful now for the new technologies that I´m using. Thanks for reminding me those wonderful years in college.

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