Is Generation Y Too Hooked On 'Tronics?

Facebook, MySpace, texting, Blackberry, Crackberry! They're the tools of Generation Y. These 20-somethings have been raised with a mouse in one hand and an iPod in the other - and the talent for driving a lot of people crazy, CBS News science and technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg reports.

And it has managers at companies complaining: "They spend too much time in front of the computer," or, "They don't want to have phone conversations, they want to have text conversations," or "When it comes to social face-to-face they'll freak out: 'oh my God, somebody's looking me in the eye,' and they can't handle it!"

"A lot of older managers view them as spoiled brats," said author Ron Alsop, who calls this generation "Millenials." They're savvy about using technology, but kind of clueless when it comes to communicating face-to-fact. Their cloting is casual - think flip-flops to meet the president, and their language - acronyms for everything: like BRB and LOL.

"Some millennials will put this text-messaging shorthand in formal memos and business reports, might even put in a happy face," Alsop said.

What about face time at the office?

"They feel as long as they get the work done, when they come in, when they leave, should be up to them," he said.

Even they admit they're often better at reading on-screen emoticons than real-life emotions.

"We always need to check out e-mail, we always need to be on the Internet, we always have to be on instant messaging with our friends," said 20-something Gina King. "It's the same thing with music. Without music for us, it's just another boring day."

Like it or not, we may be watching evolution in action, caused by prolonged exposure to technology.

"It's clearly changing our lives but it's also changing our brains," said neuroscientist Dr. Gary Small.

He says all that time staying connected has strengthened some brain pathways - at the expense of others.

Read more by Daniel Sieberg at Tech Talk
Watch online-only extra video from this story
Just compare an offline experience. Your brain on a book looks a lot different than your brain on Google.

Accounting giant Ernst & Young says by 2010, 60 percent of its employees will be Generation Y. So it's holding "generational dynamics workshops" as well as scheduling a face-to-face meeting with each new hire to introduce concepts like … meeting face-to-face.

"That is our workforce, that is what we are going to build our firm on - they're the leaders of tomorrow," said Ernst & Young's Billie Williamson.

It's all about flexibility and teamwork. In other words, Generation Y-ers could lose the stereo headphones once in a while, and the rest of us could lose the stereotypes.
  • Daniel Sieberg

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.