August 21, 2012

Today’s Kids: What’s A Radio?

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

There´s long been an interesting relationship with technological advances and the young. For instance, many people have treasured memories of gathering around a radio for entertainment and news. Others can recall spending hours at their local record store, searching for new music. The faster technology advances, the shorter amount of time it has to stick with a generation. Therefore, while the Internet is still relatively new, there are already at least 2 generations who recall two very different stages of the internet: its infancy and its insurgence. Likewise, as these technologies continue to push ever onward, older technologies are left in the dust, relegated to nostalgia and stories of “remember when we used to listen to music on 8-tracks?”

Now, the latest Mindset List from Beloit College estimates that this year´s class of college freshman won´t remember a time when they weren´t connected to the internet in some form or fashion. The collegiate class of 2016 has never known a world where John Lennon lives and have never seen the Cincinnati Reds win a world series.

Perhaps most shocking, the class of 2016, with their dependance on always-on and always-accessible devices, no longer has need for radio or television, once stalwarts of media consumption.

The Beloit Mindset List has become something of an annual, shocking cultural data point. Each August since 1998, Ron Nief and Tom McBride compile the list which explains the important and relevant cultural happenings for the incoming freshman class. The list was originally created in order to keep instructors and professors from using old and outdated references in the classroom.

Though entirely non-scientific in nature, the list can be an interesting data point, and if nothing else, something else for the retired, coffee klatch set to discuss over their joe.

After all, technology is changing at a rapid pace, and today´s freshmen were born in 1994. Since that time, Princess Di has passed, Clinton faced impeachment, and 9/11 changed the way we view the world forever. It is indeed a very different time.

For instance, of the 75 references listed on this year´s Mindset compilation, a mention of Justin Beiber and Dakota Fanning tops it all, mentioning that these youngsters could very well be joining them at this year´s freshman orientation.

-The Jacksons have now become the idea of American royalty, a role which the Kennedys long held.

-iPods and MP3 players are a part of their youth and, as such, have never really had the use for radio or other forms of physical media.

-Before purchasing textbooks, today´s youth always check for a cheaper e-book option first.

-Gone are the days of the idolized rock and roll musicians. Now, DJs and programmers are sought after as sexy rockstars.

-Despite all the changes to technology, the envelope, floppy disk and telephone have remained the icons for email, save and phone, respectively, on smartphones and tablets.

The list also points out that many biblical references which once populated our language are now lost on today´s young people, For instance, the biblical terms “good Samaritan,” “forbidden fruit,” or “writing on the wall” are now lost on today´s incoming freshman.

"When I teach Shakespeare or Milton there are a lot of biblical allusions," said McBride, who teaches English at the private university, speaking with ABC News.

I have to explain them all."