Have you ever noticed how fast young children pick up new trends on the Internet at elementary school? It is amazing really. My children come back from school and as soon as they get the chance they fire up the Internet. The boys are mostly into different computer games, my daughter likes MSN better than games.
Children adapt new technologies much faster than our generation does anyways. My 5 year old could already at the age of 4 start the computer, go to the Internet, turn on some video-clips and then surf to a game site where he plays different games. He knows all about the sites and the way they work by looking at his older brothers. My 7 and 8 year old sons however use a different strategy. Rather than searching for new sites on the Internet, they pick up new trends from school (preferably from the older children). They go from game to game. Half a year or so http://www.runescape.com was their favorite, then they moved over to http://www.pokemoncrater.com and more of such games. A game will be popular instantly, but can be out of their favorite list in no time too. They usually don’t know exactly what the web address of the game is (how do you write runescape dad?), but they find it easily. Within minutes they are signed on, and a few days later the game “slang” hits their conversations. My wife and I don’t have a clue what they are talking about, but all the kids at school do.
One interesting aspect about it is the way they deal with their game profiles. Unlike us grownups, they tend to share their accounts with their best friends. The reason for this is that there is simply more game time spent on the profile by more children, thus greatly increasing the level of play and the game powers they posses. They do not feel the urge to protect their privacy. You might think it is simply due to naivety and age, but I think that this is not the case.
These children have found ways to have a joint social interaction that benefits the group as a whole. They put more trust in their true friends and share more with them than we would. I see the same tendencies on the way the children use MSN or their mobile phones (have you ever seen 5-10 children together sharing background pictures on their mobiles using bluetooth?) . For this reason I think this generation will have a much more complete and beneficial social interaction on the Internet than we a grownups now will ever have in Facebook or any of the other social networks. In some ways less private, but at the same time much more connected, more about sharing experiences, and definitely more interactive. Advertisers and brand marketeers beware! A new social networking generation has been born.