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Generational differences - emails vs texts


Today I learned how "out of touch" I am, and that I might even be classified as a "nerd". Here's how the conversation with my 14-year-old went.

"Dad, I need a phone." (son)

"How come?" (me)

"So I can talk to my friends this summer." (son)

"We have a house phone, you can still talk to your friends." (me)

"Yah, but I want to text with them." (son)

"You could email them." (me)

"Dad, email's for nerds." (son)

Looking at my email archives, I've received 68,044 emails and sent 52,593 emails since August 29, 1998. The way I figure it, I've saved $24,718.71 in stamps as a result. If that makes me a nerd, that's okay. Interesting though how my primary method of communication is so different than my children's. Am I getting old? Also makes me wonder if my ancestors noticed their own differences between one generation to the next.


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LOL..... and it starts. I have personally lived thru telephones where you told the operator in your town who you wanted to call, to rotary dial phones with numbers like WA - 2 - 5678 to the very first "bag phones" that you plugged into the cigarette lighter in your car (they were larger than a laptop in its bag) to primitive cell phones to better cell phones to smart phones. From handwritten letters to the very first IBM personal computer in 1982 with 2 floppy disk slots (and a choice of text in bright green or amber on a black background) to the introduction of a 10 MB hard drive on the IBM PC XT ( oh how we thought that was the cat's meow) to the beginning of general use of a thing called the Internet to emails to text messaging. I wonder what the teenagers will be using in 20 years when I'm 90?

I'm a mere 66 years old and I can tell you some of the differences are VERY major! I learned to type on a manual typewriter in high school, no electricity needed, just finger-power. My first year in college I was introduced to not only an electric typewriter, but also a COMPUTER -- it filled the whole room and we had to use punch cards to run it. So much fun playing tic-tac-toe on a computer! In 1973, I began working with the Selectric typewriter: type all day and then save it to the magnetic tape and Heaven help us if the electricity went out first! Then in 1980, I was able to work with the disks; my first one was 8 inches. In 1986 I bought my first PC, an 8086 with one disk slot, so had to swap out the disks -- one for the program and one to save the work. Then came a huge break-through - the 8088 which had TWO slots, so I could run the program and save to disk at the same time. Still had problems if the electricity went out while work was in progress. I loved Star Trek and couldn't wait for the day when the tricorders became reality. And they have!! What a huge technological progression we have come through in our own short time. Someone who is 100 years old has gone through so much more!

You may or may not be a nerd, but you are definitely behind the curve on kids and phones. Tech Crunch reports that the average age that a child receives a smart phone in the US is now 10.3 years. http://techcrunch.com/2016/05/19/the-average-age-for-a-child-getting-their-first-smartphone-is-now-10-3-years/

Make no mistake, depriving your child of a phone is putting them at a disadvantage with their peers. Yes, there are risks, and you have to work at minimizing those risks. But the fluency gained by working with these phones at a young age prepares them for the rapid technological changes that are coming. SusanB pointed out a lot of the changes that have occurred in her lifetime, but we haven't seen anything yet as to the changes that we'll see in the next 20 years. Good luck, Geoff!

Although I don't text as a rule (I invariably get back a response in a 4ingn lng and any time saved in brevity is lost in my struggle to translate), both it and email I think serve a purpose. I try to use texting for very specific pieces of information exchange (be there @4 or what is your # etc) and don't go further than that. Email I use for conversations where I may need a record either to help my own memory or that of another should a disagreement or confusion come to be. I think the penchant the young have with texting is indicative of their developmental stage it being all about now... right now! It is better suited to their sense of autonomy as well as they create their own codes and can communicate solely with the intended party and not risk being overheard... this is particularly important when in class apparently... lol. Also this media doesn't test too badly their patience of which at this age is a commodity often significant in its rarity.

And there was even communication by writing notes and letters. That really puts you into the over the hill group.

Geoff, there is another reason you need to get comfortable texting. When there is a big emergencies (lights out, "The Big One") and everyone is calling to tell others they are OK--a text will go through--but the call probably won't. Everyone should know how to text. :-) Have a good day!

I remember hearing stories from my dad of my great grandmother visiting with the neighbors as the went by her house with their horse. He said they started visiting as soon as they were within earshot, and continued until they were past, never stopping on their way. Such different times.

If this is the son who did the cemetery project, he could use a very valid argument of always having a camera on hand for future similar endeavors ;)

Skilmer - different son. He'll get a phone when he gets straight A's. It's a goal he set.

I haven't looked for it, but what occurred to me reading this was.... Does Legacy have a source citation style for this? I can imagine this will be used more and more to gain information from family members in the future.

Amen Geoff. It is a huge topic for generational issues. It's Parents being involved with the kids! Keep working on it!

Geoff, this posting has opened up a conversation between me and my husband about so many changes in our lifetime. He's 77 and I'm 71 and both of us can remember the early days of passenger flight via prop planes, esp. overseas. And deciding that, honestly, cell phones were too big and too expensive, not to mention silly, and definitely weren't worth the cost! And how our daughters did their homework on a Commodore 64 when in high school -- oh, yes, and how I disliked the Apple keyboard because it wasn't like an IBM selectric typewriter!! And here we are, today, at our ages, we can't live without our cell phones, we both have tablets we use all the time and everywhere, our computers are as up-to-date as they can be; and about the only time I visit a library is because the genealogical material I want isn't on-line. And the biggest of these changes have been in the last 20 years. I think your children, and grandchildren, will live in a world of technology that we can't even imagine :-) . To be sure, your son should have to "earn" the privilege of having a cell phone -- but he shouldn't be deprived of it because "it really isn't necessarily". In this day and age, it is! 🙂

I am 69 and have learned that if I want to communicate with my kids and grandkids I text. I like texting. It's immediate whereas sometimes you have to wait awhile for emails to come through. Maybe that's why kids like it. Goeff, remember what his brothers said to Mikey? "Try it...you'll like it."

The change and destruction of our English language by often untranslatable text used by so many (particularly young) text phone and general mail users, is something that I find difficult to come to terms with.
It seems that all the valuable language education learned in our early days is gradually becoming defunct. What a shame that is. I am aged 74 and happy to use plain language to communicate on any platform.

I had the same conversation with my daughter but she said "texting is for nerds: use wotsapp"

We did get a laugh at or genealogy society last week where we said that if we wanted to hide things from the grandchildren, just write in cursive.....

When we got a family phone plan, I told the salesperson I was never going to text. Wrong. When your not near a computer or a wall phone (try finding a pay phone these days) it is so convenient to have a way to contact people. It is less disturbing to the people around us to send a text rather than to speak on the phone, and if the person is busy, they can look at it later. However, we only have flip phones (not smart phones) so it is time consuming to type a message on the abc phone keys. We have however discovered, that texts are not always as instant as expected especially in an area with tall buildings blocking the signal.

My stock illustration of the generational divide is the episode with my then 9-year-old twin grandchildren, a boy and a girl. (I'm even planning on posting it in my 'cultrure clash' blog www.appledoesnotfall.com.) The boy asked when I immigrated to the U.S. His response to "in '76" was "What does it mean, 76?" His sister clarified "It means, in 1976." Now was bewildered: "How should I know it was 1976, maybe it was 1876?"

I am 81 and I haven't mastered texting at all. I still use email and Facebook to communicate. I grew up in depression and WWII times and letters and old crank phones were the only means available until the late 40s. I have had all styles of cell phones from the big brick ones to now, although I still don't have a smart phone. That will be this year I think. In my lifetime we have gone from an agricultural age to a space age, sometimes it is hard to process what is happening in my world.
Ken Hess

I'm 73 and have worked most of my adult life in the computer industry as both a user and a developer. We do NOT text with our kids and grandkids; we DO use email; we intentionally insist that our grandkids use the telephone to TALK with us. We are not on any of the various forms of social media. Yes, we could encourage more "conversation" by using all the current techniques of communication, but we are determined to make sure our members of the younger generation understand that verbal communication is extremely important -- still. As for social media, I am just too knowledgeable about the inner workings of the Internet and the generally open access to much of the information stored in various databases and storage media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, to use those fora. By the way, we still pay our bills via checks and use postage stamps -- imagine that. Old fogies? Maybe. Comfortable with our existence and "privacy". Yes, even though we know that we may be kidding ourselves on "privacy" and security because of all the Internet users and technical wizards who are smarter than we are.

Being in my "golden years hasn't stopped me from getting an iPhone, iPad and using both. I keep in touch with grandchildren and great grandchildren. I use the picture feature not only of family but in shopping. It helps getting the right color, model, size, etc. The iPad is great for books, another item for pictures, email, and all my genealogy in case I stop at a library. My motto with these younger whipper-snappers is "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em"

It's all very well saying that Texting is the new norm.

Older people have disabilities that young ones don't.

Try texting when you have arthritis and you'll know the meaning of 'all thumbs and no fingers'.

The recipient might receive your message next month.

Newer isn't always better. My daughter is a high school math teacher. She once told me that when a parent hand writes a note it has a greater impact on her than email. Compare that to how quickly we can discount a text!

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