Just to counter the frequently gloomy press on the topic of young people and literacy, it's worth taking a look at this Canadian News piece on what's being call "the Internet generation." A new book says that these young people born between 1977 and 1997 – there are 81 million of them in the US – are "more politically savvy, socially engaged and family-centered than society gives them credit for."
Toronto-based consultant Don Tapscott interviewed more than 10,000 "Net gen-ers" in 12 countries including Canada and the US as research for his book "Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World."
Tapscott told Canadian News that his research filled him with hope because, "Net gen-ers are smarter, quicker and more tolerant of diversity than their predecessors." Despite the fact that these kids have "repeatedly been called lazy, unmotivated, dumb and narcissistic," says Tapscott, "None of this is supported by the data. " He cites IQ scores and college graduation levels as proof.
What Tapscott sees is a generation more plugged in and better informed than their elders. They are also smart and skeptical enough to question what they read online.
They are different from those of us from the pre-Internet era, Tapscott acknowledges and that may prevent us from enthusiastically embracing the potential for positive change that they represent. "We fear what we don't understand," he says.
They may read differently from the rest of us – and that is something to watch with interest if not concern – but nothing is Tapscott's reseach supports the idea of a generation that is ill-informed or lacking in critical thinking skills.
Tapscott is also the author of 1996 bestseller "Growing Up Digital."