There has never been a technological gulf between two generations that’s larger than the one between Boomers and Millennials.
Human technological progress has historically been slow – but it’s also been exponential, with each new discovery allowing for ten more discoveries, and with processor speeds doubling constantly1. Those trends came to a head with the explosion of the Information Age and Millennials were there to benefit.
Boomers have had to adapt to a world of smartphones and the Internet, which has been completely foreign compared to how they were raised. Millennials however, even the oldest ones, barely remember a time without mobile phones and some form of Internet, making them more adaptable to technological change, even as those technologies have improved drastically since their youngest days.
But then there’s Generation Z, Boomlets or the Homeland Generation2 or whatever you want to call them until they get a better name. These are the kids who are actually teenagers right now (rather than old Boomer’s just referring to everyone younger than them as Millennials), and they were born either just before or just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and are often the children of Generation X. They grew up in a post-9/11 world and don’t remember a time when Internet and mobile phones weren’t awesome. These are the Snapchat users who see social networks like Facebook as something dating back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Then there are those even younger: the children of the oldest Millennials, who are perhaps a completely different generation entirely and are growing up using smartphones as early as three-years-old. There’s no telling how radically different their relationship to technology is going to be.
Even beyond that will be the children of the youngest Millennials – those exiting college soon – and that’s where things are going to get weird.
This Generation (let’s call them Generation A1), will have casual access to 3D printing and will be able to design and create their own toys at home from a very young age. They’ll have basic coding literacy before they’re tweens since schools will integrate it into their lessons starting in Kindergarten. They’ll have an online presence pretty much from birth, and not just the ones created and managed by their parents. They’ll understand how to use the Internet to its maximum potential before they even hit Middle School. Their entire lives will be hooked up to the Internet of Things and they’ll never understand how “dumb devices” were ever a thing.
And that’s just the technology they’ll be hooked up to that already exists. There’s no telling what new advancements in the next 10 or 15 years is going to make their lives even more radically different than that of their parents.
This isn’t even a very bold prediction. It’s basically inevitable and we see precursors to it among the youngest extant generations already. It’s only a matter of time.