Why Digital Generation Needs Communication Training

Teresa Martini

Teresa Martini is an international media and communication coach and speaker and former CNN International producer. www.mediacoaching.biz

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The ‘digital generation’ are roughly 30 or younger. As they arrive in a workplace dominated by the non-digital generation, one thing becomes clear, says Teresa Martini. They are challenged when it comes to communication skills.

What makes the “digital generation” different? It is widely known that while the non-digital generation adopted the use of technology, the digital generation was born into a world where technology was an inherent part of their life and the use of – and exposure to – technology in their formative years changed their cognitive process.

This means the digital generation processes information in a different way to the non-digital generation. This has led to differences in how the digital generation relates to the world and how they understand it.

The digital generation was born into a world of video games, internet, mobile communications, digital social interactions, television, the ability to stream video content, the technology to create their own media content and so on.

Take video games alone. According to Jane McGonigal, a game designer and author, by the age of 21 the average young person in the US has 10,000 hours of gaming under his or her belt. That is just 24 hours less than they spend in a classroom (middle and high school combined) if they have perfect attendance.

Add to this the hours spent surfing the internet, texting on mobile devices, watching TV, streaming video content and the rest, then the amount of hours understanding and relating to the world via a screen is significantly greater than the time spent at school, one of the most important environments where children learn key interpersonal and social skills.

Given the non-linear nature of the internet and the amount of information that technology makes available nowadays, the digital generation has been conditioned to best process information when it is presented:

  • with simultaneous and multiple stimuli
  • in short amounts and at a fast pace
  • in a non-linear sequence
  • involving constant interaction

Consequently, it is clear why the digital generation has a short attention span for traditional ways of presenting information (such as reading a book or attending a lecture) but in turn has the ability to spend long periods of time consuming information when it is presented with the characteristics mentioned above.

For the full article, you can view the PDF or listen to the podcast.

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