Tekno Youth

Tekno Youth

Mary-Jane Konings

Overloading the
Information Super Highway
Technology and Young People
in Auckland, New Zealand
 

The information superhighway is a cute way of referring to the explosion of knowledge and technology in the last ten years.

As a cautious traveller down this road, I’m looking for a road map. All the same, I ‘ve managed to make a few observations which I’d like to share with you.

Out in East Auckland, a microcosm of the world’s struggle with technology is emerging. In my classes I have technophiles, technophobes and a whole bunch who are completely unaware there was ever a time without mobile phones.

‘Oh yeah � in the olden days but not in the real world, the one I live in.’

Technophiles Mention anything vaguely related to computers and their little eyes light up.These are the nerds and geeks who love nothing better than surfing the net when they are not creating havoc in the school computer system.

Idealists to the last man, in their eyes technology will save the world.

Question? Find the answer on the net. Assignment due? Download megabytes from the web.

‘Computers are great,’ says Darryl, a third former. ’I can type my assignments and get stuff off Encarta, pictures and that. I’d like to surf the web more but it takes time.

Young people are experiencing the benefits of new technology in all sorts of ways.

‘Dad bought my brother and me a mobile phone so he could always get hold of us and make sure we were OK. It’s sort of for safety, you know,’ explains Tanya, a seventh former.

‘It’s always new, there’s always more to learn,’ adds John.

And then there are all the cool games you can now play at home or away that didn’t exist when I was growing up. YEE-HAA!

Technophobes
However, not all young people are caught up in the spell of technology.

Lots of people blame the world’s problems on technology, particularly pollution.

‘Technology is bad because it makes us use more of the earth’s resources,’ says Amy, a third former. ’And it causes war and things. We should use less.’

‘And people lose jobs.’ explains Tara. ‘There are less jobs because machines do the work.’

‘It’s too hard,’ says Peter. ’It’s all changing too fast and you can’t keep up.’

‘Technology is gonna bring the end of the world. There is just too much of it,’ Antony declares.

Some take a balanced view of technology. ‘Technology is good and bad,’ says Karla. ‘It’s good because it helps us to do stuff and makes life better. But it’s bad because there is so much of it and it’s kind of taking over.’‘Technology is good and bad,’ explains Troy. ’It’s good coz it helps you do interesting things. But it’s bad because it’s always changing and you can’t keep up. There is always something new coming out and you can’t always afford it.’

The deep issues of technology Many young people have never thought about technology and technology issues. But there are heaps.For example, our have-nots are not computer literate.

They can and sometimes do steal the technology but mostly they are interested only in playing spacies or kickboxing.

Now I love to kick butt too but I’m also interested in other avenues.

While technology can be expensive to get into, the world suddenly becomes a much smaller place. One person can do so much more with these cool toys as long as they are not sucked into simply playing with them.

At the end of the day the big question facing us is whether we use technology or become slaves to the machines we have created. The pace of change is perhaps our biggest hurdle � by the time you become an expert on something, it is probably obsolete.

As we hurtle down the information superhighway, we need to decide what is excess baggage and find that darn map.

I’m still trying to figure out what is important and remember where I’m actually heading without getting caught up in all the blinking lights and flash displays on the dashboard.

I’m sure that map is in my Bible�

MaryJane Konings