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Atlanta teens offer insight into how technology use by teens today differs from past and possibly future generations

When I see five-year-olds playing a game on the Wii, or with their eyes glued to the computer screen, it makes me sad. When I was their age, I never sat in the house all day, eyes glued to a screen. I played real basketball rather than a simulation on some Nintendo-made device. I ran outside with my friends, making up games, not limited to software on a computer. And I read the book rather than watched the movie. When I was younger, I had a free spirit with no limit to what I could do. The other day, I babysat an eight-year-old and asked her what game she wanted to play or if she would like to swing in the nearby park. I was dumbfounded when she only wanted to stay inside and play a boring computer game. I tried convincing her to go outside rather than stay in a stuffy house, but she was adamant. Her insistence on staying in the house with her computer made me realize the playthings of the past are lost.

Safa Syed, 16, Northview High


SMS, email, IM, chat, Tweet. These words are all relatively new and have one thing in common: technology. They are part of the new generation of slang. “Back in the day, we didn’t have Google,” my aunt says to me on the phone. “We went to the library where we did our research by hand.” When I complain about modern-day technology, she likes to bring up life before it. All I know is it’s here now, and my kids will be a part of the new era.

Kyla Dickson, 16, Parkview High


I grew up in what I call the “transitional” period of technology. I was born in the 1990s, so I saw new and advanced technology coming in as older technology was leaving. My generation is familiar with things such as telephones with no cords and dial-up Internet but at the same time we are comfortable with technology such as touch screens and GPS. The main difference between the older generation and the new generation is that the newer generation was raised around touch devices and being able to do research without leaving the house. What I notice about my family is that my parents struggle with these new devices. They are so used to having to do things in a more time-consuming manner while my brother and I are used to doing things in less than an hour.

Endia Mathews, 17, Chamblee High


The difference in technology use is that our grandparents didn’t have the type of advanced technology we depend on. They had to rely on rough, hard work and will to keep living. Our parents were the people that started us in technology with slow computers and better ways of doing things.

Taereco Wilborn, 17, Frederick Douglass High


Technology has had an impact on many people’s lives. For example, my grandma is very into technology. But, my granddad is the exact opposite. He has all these high-tech items and does not know how to use them. It seems pointless at times. He attempts to learn to use them, but just never has the time. I think that since I’ve grown up in a generation where technology is getting more and more advanced, I have gotten addicted. When I get my phone taken away or don’t have Internet access for a period of time, I feel incomplete. It’s kind of sad because technology is taking over our lives and I can only imagine what it’s going to do for little children and the ones to come.

Dominique Sabir, 15, Coretta Scott King


The technology divide is one of the biggest factors separating the old from the new. When my parents were growing up, their biggest worry was whether or not they got paged by their boy/girlfriend. The rest was face to face. For my generation, the problems are endless: whether you get a text message, phone call, Facebook add/comment/like, what time you got the message, etc. It not only complicates romantic relationships but every other kind of relationship as well. Not only is our generation one of touch screens, updates, notifications and blink-of-the-eye speed, but we’re one completely deprived of social skills...or maybe it’s a new set of social skills that previous generations have yet to accept?

Mallory Vaughn, 17, Holy Innocents Episcopal


If it weren’t for technology, I wouldn’t be alive. I was put on a ventilator at birth because of my cerebral palsy.

Alexander Mead, 14, Home School


I feel very lucky to be in an advanced generation where new technology is being introduced every day to society. The tricky thing is my parents and other older relatives who don’t comprehend the new world of technology. My mom didn’t know how to work a laptop computer or download a song on the Internet until I was in the 11th grade. My grandmother didn’t know what an iPod was until I told her about it last week. It amazes me how older people don’t operate on new technology. They always say that when they were little, cable never existed. It’s funny how their world was and how I live in the new world now.

Travon Bracey, 17, Stone Mountain High


The biggest advantage of technology, specifically the Internet, is that everyone is allowed to express their opinions. I notice that in the past, families received information on important news by radio or television. Through these reports, broadcasters would express their own opinions without interruptions from others. Now, there are blogs, and social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, which were created in order for everyone to speak their minds. Although there are disagreements, and sometimes unpopular opinions, the most important thing is that everyone has the outlet to speak. In addition, technology such as iPods, smartphones and tablets are making our world run at a faster pace.

Tene’ Young, 17, Carver Early College


We are lucky enough to be growing up in the 21st century’s technology innovation. Generations to come will be introduced at birth to the ever-changing world while generations before our time will get lost in this new world. We get to witness the change between cassette tapes to touch screens in our prime years. This makes us ready to adapt and leaves the other generations hindered.

Jasmine Thomas, 16, Frederick Douglass High


I meet kids these days who can’t write properly, and I’m troubled. I sometimes skim Facebook posts, and I ask myself, ‘What is happening to my generation?’ In a new world with continuous texting and constant Twitter, people don’t write letters anymore. Back in my parents’ day, writing letters and passing notes were common to do for someone’s loved ones. Back then, people were more articulate and they could spell. The art of writing is dying, and my generation is suffering because of it. With every pro, there’s a con, and technology’s increasing growth is a major pro, but look at all the cons.

Adrienne Sumlin, 17, Grady High


Personally, I believe the technological divide in this country has made an impact on generational attitude. There was a higher appreciation for reliable information in the late 1970s to early 1990s compared to today. Many young men and women are bombarded with so much information on a daily basis, our empathy becomes non-existent. We are desensitized to a point that we destroy the social qualities that are valued in intellectually/emotionally-aware societies. As for children nowadays, many will grow to expect certain information and entitlements. Due to technology they would not be able to fathom it’s removal or non-existence. Life will be aided and greatly enriched by technology.

Chernail Arnold, 19, Berry College


Kids are nutured and conditioned to use technology (cell phones, microwaves, television). Our elders were not. My elders were conditioned to go and do things manually. Not automatically. My elders grew up with brick heaters and fighting for their rights. My nieces and nephews are growing up fighting for their privileges surronding technology.

Julia Hall, 17, North Springs High


Life without today’s technology is hard to imagine. When my parents told me how many years they lived without cell phones, iPods or computers, I was shocked. I wonder how different my world would be if I grew up without them. I think it is interesting how different my grandma’s life was, who doesn’t even know how to use a cell phone.

Morgan Johnson, 14, Decatur High


I have a picture of me, as a little three-year-old, smiling into the camera lens. But it wasn’t a regular camera lens; I was looking into a webcam, smiling at my grandmother, who lived several thousand miles away from me at the time. Fifty, or even 30 years ago, this type of communication was nonexistent; I would have had to write a letter or talk over the phone to communicate with my loved ones. Technology truly affects the way everyone communicates with each other; yet there are cons to the advent of new technology and media. With a cell phone, I’m expected to constantly check my location. I’m constantly connected. And if, somehow, my cell phone was lost, then my parents would immediately assume that I’d been kidnapped or something terrifying had happened. My parents and their generation grew up without these constraints. In many ways, technology complicates my life.

Deborah Harris, 16, Grady High


My parents have no clue when it comes to technology. Sometimes, I try to teach them how to type. My dad has gotten the gist of it and even checks his own emails, but my mom is just not used to it. My parents grew up in a small third-world country called Bangladesh and the most technology they had was a phone...probably miles away from where they lived. So, it doesn’t surprise me that they aren’t adjusted to it.

I’m just fortunate that I grew up with enough technology to know how to survive school and access things easily, even have fun (Facebook, Tumblr). Technology can be scary but for me, it’s second nature. Is that a good thing? My grandparents call me daily to check stuff for them online. Things that don’t even matter. But, I help them anyway, so they are happy. Our world, especially my generation, is completely engulfed in technology. It’s too important; we have to live with it. I just wish there was a better balance.

Sanjida Mowla, 16, Grady High

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