Looking at a variety of organizations that research the use of technology in education was an interesting exercise to me. Amazingly, this is something I haven't thought much about! In particular, I was taken with The Beloit College Mindset List for the concise, numbered listing of facts that people over the age of 30 might not have considered when trying to understand the context of college students' lives.
Each year that I teach, my students seem to get younger. This is not the case, of course, especially since I now only work with 5th and 6th graders, but used to teach K-5. In fact, my middle school students are the same age each year and I am the one who is getting older. As the difference in age widens between myself and my students, they seem younger, and it becomes more difficult to identify with the realities of their generation. A list like the Beloit College Mindset reminds us that these students "have never had to watch or listen to programs at a scheduled time," and also, "there has always been a digital swap meet called eBay." When we think and talk about these students being 'entitled' it is important to remember that they did not grow up in the same world that older adults did. It is harder to excite them, perhaps because, "Instant, tray-less ice cubes have never been a novelty." Can you imagine instant ice to Laura Ingalls Wilder's family? These students probably cannot!
But, blaming the students for the world in which they happened to arrive is surely not the answer. My husband is a college professor, and recently, his students have taken to calling him, "Dad." This is partly because at 47, he is old enough to be their dad, also because he is actually a dad, and especially because now that he has his own children, he often counsels his students NOT to smoke, NOT to drink to excess, and to think VERY hard before getting that tattoo they think will express their true individualism forever. He sees them as very young, while they see themselves as old enough to make decisions that will having lasting impact on their adult lives.
Our job as adults is to keep abreast of research like Project Tomorrow, which shows us how quickly mindsets can change. For example, in 2016, "55 percent of parents would like their child’s teacher or school to simply “text them” when they want to communicate information. In 2010, text messaging was the preference of only five percent of parents." Source: Project Tomorrow Key Findings from 2016. Using the data we have available to us, we as adults can carefully consider what to hold out for, and what to embrace in order to best reach our students.
After all, if they don't like our answer, they can always Google a better one.