This is the first generation of children who are growing up with tablets. Some young children have used these devices and the apps on them for close to three years, but up until now most of that use has been restricted to broadband in Wi-Fi enabled homes. So what will Generation Z and the Pluralist generation dream of for the future?
Last year, an 8 year old sent a wish-list sent to Santa Claus that consisted of just 6 letters: ‘Laptop’. After a deeper investigation it became clear this 8-year old considered tablets to be for kids who did not know the alphabet yet nor difference between left and right mouse clicks. But for someone like this 8-year old, who had both these skills, the obvious choice was to trade-up and become a laptop-enabled citizen.
Just upping the game on the device itself may not be enough. Most kids have figured out by now that the tablet is broken in many ways. It doesn’t work outside their home, not in the car, nor on planes. They see their parents being on the phone everywhere and they wonder why the bigger tablet don’t work in the same locations. Integrated 3G and 4G connectivity is demanded first, in some cases, by the youngest members of the family.
These trends tie into young children’s transition from pure content consumers, in the form of apps and games, to content creators. As they start the journey of creating content on their own, they will experience the same connectivity limitations with tablets that adults experience. And since they have grown up with tablets they might instead skip laptops altogether and go straight to an ultra-book as long as they can get the mouse and keyboard they are looking for.
My predictions of the future for the youngest Networked Society members are:
• Tablets will remain their first computer with a starting age of around year 2 or 3.
• Their demand for an environment enabling content creation will arise when they learn how to read and write.
• Handwriting skills will be impacted, as children adopt laptops and ultra-books very early on in their lives.
• Full-fledged connectivity is relevant to very young people who don’t have preconceived notions about how to connect to the network. They prefer to stay connected all the time.