Most everyone knows there’s a generational gap with technology….you know, the whole understanding that Generations X and Y and are so much faster to adopt and embrace things like texting, instant messaging, blogging, social networking, podcasting, etc. Well I recently got a shocking lesson from a member of Generation Z (1998 – 2009). My three year old nephew Preston loves to surf the Web and is fascinated by computers the way any toddler would be. But this particular toddler showed me you’re never too young for YouTube.
Since my nephew Preston was barely a year old my husband has occasionally used YouTube to entertain him with everything from Cartoon Network videos to movie previews to educational dinosaur and shark videos (his two favorite animals EVER). I think you get the picture….Preston is no stranger to YouTube. But you wouldn’t expect him to be able to function on his own with the site, right? Wrong.
I have no idea how or when this happened but Preston learned to use a computer mouse – pretty crazy, but not unbelievable. What is insane is that Preston’s command of the mouse is not the only thing he’s mastered. He understands the structure of the flippin site! You type in a basic search – like, say…Dinosaur, and he’ll take it from there. Literally, he’ll tell you “I CAN DO IT!” and push you away so he can enjoy his videos in peace.
He looks at the preview screens for all the videos, picks the one he wants and clicks on it. He’ll turn the volume up on the speaker and watch for a minute. If he likes it, he’ll play it again and again, if he doesn’t he moves on to the list of related videos on the right side of the page. He’ll scroll through that, pick one that looks good and try it out. Preston can repeat the process for an hour if he’s content with what he finds. THIS is insanity. His searches have found him a couple of his favorite videos….Dinosaur Fart, Singing Hippo, and Noodles on my Back.
I know kids are smart and they absorb a lot, but when I watched this three year old literally surf YouTube I was flabbergasted. If this is what the growing Generation Z is capable of we’re in for a hell of a ride. I mean seriously, marketers….get your research projects ready, these kids will be so chock full of technology and media they’ll make appealing to Generation Y look like a walk in the park. What’s out of the box now will be as traditional as the black and white newspaper ads of ten years ago by the time these kids are ready to process what the industry has to throw at them. I can’t wait to see what this generation forces us to come up with!