Attention Gen Y: You don’t own the Internet

March 4, 2009 1 Comment

As a member of Generation Y (18-32 year-olds), I will admit that we subscribe to the belief that the Internet is our playground. We understand it, we use it, we dominate it. At least that’s what we think.

Perhaps that’s why it is so fascinating for me to see my parents trying to use the Internet. I taught my mom to blog and my dad to Google. I am intermittently frustrated and impressed by their progress as Internet users. And when I run into a Baby Boomer who quizzes me on connection speeds and scripting – I feel humbled.

The truth is – there’s no learning curve for my generation when it comes to adopting social networking or learning a new computer program at work. We’ve been using computers since we were at least in our teens. And for the Millenials it will be even more intuitive as most of them were using basic computers before they started school. Don’t believe me – watch the new Microsoft commercials.

But for the older generations, the concept of making dinner reservations online or texting a colleague with a work question, required more than learning which buttons to push. It required a cultural shift.

In Tanzania it is fairly expensive to use your cell phone, but free to text message. So I spent a two week family vacation convincing my parents it is more cost-effective for them to text their friends if they have a quick message to relay. They were horrified at first and felt it was extremely rude. But as the week went on and they received countless texts from close friends, work colleagues and even acquaintances, they realized times have changed and they needed to change too.

Well, despite my generation’s self-proclaimed ownership of the Web, we’re losing ground. That’s according to new data from the Pew Internet and American Life project. Check out this table.

Generations Explained 
Generation Birth Years Ages in 2009 % Of Total Adult Population  % Of Internet-Using Population
Gen Y (Millennials)





Gen X





Younger Boomers





Older Boomers





Silent Generation





G.I. Generation





Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project December 2008 survey, February 2009

The study claims, “Generation X (not Y) is the most likely group to bank, shop, and look for health information online. Boomers are just as likely as Generation Y to make travel reservations online. And even Silent Generation Internet users are competitive when it comes to email.”

Interesting. Very interesting.

You can read the full study here. Thoughts? Leave a comment.


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  1. My grandpa is also a Baby Boomer and we love him a lot..”~

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