I recently attended a session at PodCamp New Hampshire on “Digital Natives” and realized halfway through the discussion that my children represent the first generation of “Social Natives.” My son Jackson and I thought it would be nice to share an episode of our show “Two Dudes and One Camera” with the Dad-O-Matic community and give you our take on what the rise of the social natives may mean to society and the world as we know it.
Here is a short list of things we think will change. Please feel free to share your thoughts on what a new generation of social natives will mean in the comment section.
- Friendships – Think about your first friendships. Most of them probably with other children from your neighborhood, church, school or maybe children of your parents’ friends. My son and daughter will most likely develop real friendships with kids who live nowhere near them. These friendships will be as real and genuine as any other.
- Never Losing Touch – Over the years I have lost touch with many of my early childhood friends. A lot of them moved when we were still kids and the rest of us dispersed after high school. Sure social tools like Facebook have allowed me to reconnect with some friends but in most cases being separated for over a decade or longer has made true reconnection awkward. Social natives will never have to lose touch with friends simply because their moms and dads choose to move.
- Schools – The long promised virtual school is possible today. How long will it be before parents are given the choice to enroll their social native children in schools connected via Skype? Children in an economically depressed area of the country will no longer need to be victimized by chronically under performing school systems. What happens to our inner cities when children no longer need to risk their lives to receive an education?
- Business – By the time my children reach the age of 18 each of them will likely have a global network of friends. Can you even begin to imagine the disruptive businesses these kids will launch?
- Geo Politics – Sure a country is defined by geographical borders but it also needs a common culture and political framework. There is an old saying that says “all politics is local” but will that be true when social natives take the reigns of power? Yes they will care about local services but only as much as it impacts their lives. If they no longer need a local school system to educate themselves and their children what other local concerns will rally their vote? How will nations interact when an entire generation of world leaders have been interconnected since they were children?
- Entertainment – Jackson turned 5 today and already he is a prolific content creator. Each episode of “Two Dudes and One Camera” is 7 to 8 minutes long. When his friends and family watch his show that is 7 to 8 minutes in which they are not watching NBC. What happens when some of his other friends and family members start creating and distributing content? How will our society change when there is no longer a common entertainment experience from which we develop a sense of what is funny, what is sad or tragic, what is violent and what is meaningful?
- Cultural Identity – The nature versus nurture debate is about to be put to the test on a scale previously unimaginable. What we believe and how we behave has historically been due in large part to the circumstance in which we were born. Until recently dissenters were either culturally isolated or eliminated. However, we now live in a world where it is becoming increasingly easier for us to find and connect with other people who share our interests and beliefs regardless of where we live. How will the world change when the social natives come of age with access tools that allow for insulation against those who are intolerant of their beliefs? What happens when angry children filled with rage have no barrier to connecting with other angry punks? The world is about to see the long tail applied to cultural identity and it will have massive implications on how our children live.
What other changes do you see coming? Are you kids social natives? Do you see differences in their lives as a result?