Saturday, January 23, 2010

Technology as a necessity

At a conference presentation on the Cybernetic Teen, Jason Cranford Teague used the word “necessity” when talking about technology for teens today. He provided an interesting comparison between a teen’s tech use in 1987 and a teen’s tech use today. He also provided a definition of the word “necessity” which made sense within the context of his presentation. And it got me thinking about whether or not I’d agree that certain technology is a necessity for teens today. Because it was on my mind, I talked it over with several people today and found that we all seem to be divided on the issue.
Teague said that a teenager in 1987 would have been unlikely to have a home computer, especially one with Internet and that a personal mobile phone for teens then was possible but highly unlikely. (He also noted that they’d be using a Walkman for music and playing a Nintendo Game System for fun.) By this definition, it makes sense to me that he was saying these things are necessities. But in a general context, do I think that’s true? I do believe that a home computer with Internet access is a necessity for a majority of kids in a Western World today. (Teague did note that he was speaking about Western countries, but he didn’t differentiate between urban and rural teens and I believe that the argument could be made that teens in some rural areas don’t currently meet the minimum standard for the term “necessity” to be applicable. I don’t have the numbers on that handy, though, so I could be wrong.) Although I believe that his definition probably accurately describes the cell phone as necessity for teens, I’m not sure that I think it’s truly a necessity. I believe that teens today could appropriately communicate with their peers through IM and social networking sites without the use of their cell phones and not be “out of the communication loop”. But of course the underlying assumption for that is that I believe the home computer and high speed Internet to be “necessities”.hen he argued that today it’s a necessity for kids to have a computer with Internet access at home and that it’s almost a necessity for them to have a cell phone.

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