After reading this list of “10 Things our Kids will Never Worry About Thanks to the Information Revolution” from Forbes, I was inspired to remind people that technology usually creates just as many problems as it solves. So here’s my list of the new worries created by the Information Revolution.
1. [Will never have to worry about Taking a Typing Class] They will have to worry about … Mastering multiple input methods and keeping track of which ones autocorrect which words badly. Now you have to master typing on a keyboard, typing on a tablet device, sliding over touch-keys on a Smartphone, using a numeric-only keyboard on a cellphone, using the voice-input from Apple, using the voice-input from Google, or using the voice-input from Microsoft. Each one of these uses different AutoCorrect features and has different oddities. That’s plenty to worry about. One bad autocorrect could lose you a job if you’re not careful.
2. [Will never have to worry about Paying Bills by Writing Countless Checks] They will have to worry about … Losing control of finances because it’s too easy to make impulse purchases. When all it takes to make an impulse buy is one click on your phone, tablet, or computer, it’s pretty easy to overspend your income. And, while $0.99 or $4.99 is a pretty inexpensive purchase, those small impulse App purchases add up pretty quickly.
3. [Will never have to worry about Buying an Expensive Set of Encylopedias] They will have to worry about … Evaluating the Source of their Information. I’m sure you know an educator or parent who has “banned” Wikipedia. Now information comes from Twitter, Facebook, Internet Search, online journals, firewalled “scholarly” research journals, Wikipedia, and more. Is it good information or bad information? Well, now you have to make that determination too.
4. [Will never have to worry about Using a Pay Phone or Racking Up a Long Distance Bill] They will have to worry about … Racking Up a Roaming Charge or Data Overage Bill. The last time I roamed on my phone in Canada (for about 30 minutes), it cost me $27. The current overage on a wifi hotspot on Sprint is $50 per GB (after you surpass 5 GB a month). And, for the record, most phone plans DO come with a limitation on certain types of minutes, and the overages on those are NOT cheap.
5. [Will never have to worry about Having to Pay Somebody Else to Develop Photographs] They will have worry about Managing the Storage and Rights on their Digital Photos and Videos. Now they need to decide on their photo- and video-sharing strategy. Where will they store their photos? On a hard-drive only? (better have a backup system in case the computer is stolen or lost) In the cloud? (Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, Vimeo, YouTube …) What kind of access do you want to give to your photos? Should they be private or public? Private to specific groups or all your friends? Do you want to copyright the photos? If so, which copyright should you use? Oh, and did you still want hard copies of some photos? Then you’ll have to purchase and maintain a printer that is capable of printing color photos (together with proper toner or ink + special photo paper).
6. [Will never have to worry about Driving to a Store to Rent a Movie] They will have to worry about … Violating Copyright by Accident when they Make their own Videos. The U.S. Copyright laws have become so complex and confusing that you can accidentally violate them when you make a home movie in your living room while some copyrighted song plays on the radio in the background. One can imagine a future when being sued for copyright infringement is an almost daily occurrence for the average person.
7. [Will never have to worry about Buying or storing music, movies, or games on physical media.] They will have to worry about … Being Locked in to a Single Media Device (and Format) Forever. Kindle books won’t work on Nooks, Nook books won’t work on Kindle, and iTunes songs won’t play on Android. Once you make your choice of digital format for books, music, and note-taking, you are either locking yourself in forever, or facing a very expensive switch to a new provider at some point. The choice of media network not only locks you in to a format, but might lock you out of a sharing network with some of your friends.
8. [Will never have to worry about Having to Endlessly Search to Find Unique Content.] They will have to worry about … Managing the flow from the firehose of information. When I was a kid, you could write a research paper after consulting your school library and your set of Encylopedias. With the information now available (and having recently written a dissertation) I can say that having too much access to information can make it incredibly difficult to know whether you’ve thoroughly researched your topic. How much searching is “enough” to say you’re done?
9. [Will never have to worry about Sending Letters.] They will have to worry about … Responding to Communication on a Multitude of Platforms and Networks. A professional will have to communicate with their colleagues through email, several social networks, texts, and synchronous communication systems. Not only is this a lot to manage, but each medium requires different etiquette. If you screw up the etiquette of the medium (for example, you use text-speak in an email) you’ll look like an idiot to the receiver.
10. [Will never have to worry about Being without the Internet & instant, ubiquitous connectivity.] They will have to worry about … Getting enough Sleep and Managing Stress. In an always-on world, you have to be able to disconnect to stay sane. Many youth go to sleep with their cell phone on their pillow, unable to disconnect from their social network for even one minute. As these sleep-deprived teenagers become adults and parents, one can only imagine the damage to their psychological well-being if they are unable to learn to disconnect.
So, yes, there are some things that our kids will not have to worry about thanks to the Information Revolution. However, I don’t think technology has exactly made it less worrisome to grow up in today’s world.