We are now part of a world that is full of digital natives.  But what about those who are new to digital – or what about back in the day when you and I were new to digital?  How did we behave?  What steps and feelings did we go through as this brave new world opened up to us?

A colleague recently described his mother’s reaction to her new iPad.  She sounded like a young child with a new toy – describing every new action and move.  And this made me think about the “ages” we go through in our digital journey.

First contact with digital technology – be it a new device like a iPad or platform like Skype – generates a child like glee and excitement.  Everything is new and full of discovery and brings further exploration and a verbalisation of the joy of discovery.  Those of us who have recently experienced parents going through this process can testify to the simple pleasure the joy of new technology can bring.

But what happens as the relationship progresses and the person reaches “school age”?  Here there are lots of questions, lots of learning needed and unfortunately a need to do some homework.  The excitement and glee has all but worn off – however a glimmer still remains and it is this that carries the person through the “school years”.  Frustrations however do start to appear – the lack of understanding and despair at not getting it, despite having done ones homework.  Encouragement by the “teacher” (generally a younger relative or more tech savvy friend) pulls them through.

School age moves into the difficult teenage years.  Not all teenagers are alike – some pass through their teenage years with no rebellion, no problems whilst others have a very troublesome time.  These problem years can mean a move away from the newly learnt technology and skills, a disregard for the joys but also the stress the technology brings.  The “teenage” rebellion can mean a return to the old ways, turning away from Skype or the computer.  Like all of our ages however the “teenage” years will invariably come to an end for most.  A few may remain forever in their teenage years but most will mature and move into their 20s, 30s etc.

The next decades bring increasing confidence and a comfort in the technology.  They will be familiar and happy with the basics and will be open to new platforms and technologies – depending on their age mind you.  As the person matures they find a comfort level they are happy with and find the technology meets their needs.  Their youthful curiosity may give way to routine but generally contentment, mixed with a bit of frustration that life invariably brings.  They now use technology as part of their everyday life.  If something new comes along that will really make a monumental change, then they may consider it, but if not they will do very nicely with the skills and technologies they have.

And so we come to old age.  This is where we hand the reins over to the next generations – it is up to them to lead the change and bring in the new technologies.  It is up to them to teach their “grandparents” how to use the latest of the latest.  The “elderly” user however can look back and reminisce on their early days with the technology and all they learnt – and how quickly things have changed again.  Some will be forever youthful and keep learning and evolving but many will stay at a happy status quo with their technology.

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