Friday, June 24, 2005

Technology bridging teens' socialization needs...

Terril Yue Jones has filed a detail-laden piece for the Los Angeles Times from her San Francisco post entitled "24/7, Teens Get the Message," which sums up the many ways in which today's teens are fulfilling their ancient instincts to socialize. The story draws in so many statistics it makes one's head spin, validating the vast extent to which the story's subject teenagers are embracing computers and mobile technology devices to connect to friends and groups, notch themselves upward on the ever-important ladder of popularity and deal with the other highs and lows of growing up. In other words, for an increasing number of teenagers, these communication-enabling technologies play pivotal roles in virtually all of their day-to-day activities.

As one young man contributes, "If you don't have AIM, you don't have friends." Several subjects talk about how they stay on their cellphones for hours at a time for what may best be described as an obsession with always being on the phone. The story points out that most teens are fully capable of turning these new innovations toward their own interests, and the story's examples showcase lifestyles that, to this reader, seem rather complicated. Yet, for those of us who are no longer teens, regardless of the social or economic conditions that framed our own youths, we can easily recall times when secrets and discoveries were shared, unraveled and explored with friends. Like the tin can phones that yesterday's generations of kids used to create bonds that helped them grow through interactions that were decidedly less intimate, today's kids are using what they have available to illuminate their worlds.