I have 3 teenagers (ooops, one is now 20) and I have watched for years how easily they move from one technical 'toy' to the next. There seems to be no learning curve...they find out about it, try it and it either sticks or it doesn't. Often, I don't even hear about these things until they are either rejected or so integrated in to their lives as to have become an everyday thing (think Facebook and Skype). I thought I would share what I learned about last night so that we 'older folks' can at least understand some of what they are doing and find interesting.
The latest craze with the 17 year old set is a new website called Chatroulette! The premise here is that almost all computers now have video cams so that our kids can Skype to their hearts content. Well, take that one step further and you have Chatroulette! Let me explain.
Last night my daughter was working with her Spanish group on a project that was due on Monday. I heard shouts and cheers coming from the basement. At first I did not pay attention because they were yelling 'Hola' in Spanish. When it continued, I went down to check on their progress.
Turns out that they had finished the Spanish homework and turned on ChatRoulette!. They were talking to some Spanish speaking kids who were also sitting in front of their computer waiting for the next exciting person to check in. By the time I got downstairs, they had switched to some college kids in Florida.
The idea behind the site is that you just hit the 'Next' button and you 'spin' to the next person who wants to chat.
Obviously, all of you reading this are thinking about the 'creepers' out there. I am sure that is an issue. My daughter said that they 'spun' over to a camera where all they could see was a pair of pants and a belt buckle. They immediately hit 'Next' and left that 'chatter' behind. Clearly this is a website that comes with opportunity for dangerous situations to occur. As with anything, it is a site that must be used carefully, with an awareness that not everyone who is participating is just doing it for fun, and is not appropriate for younger kids. Even with those precautions, it is still ripe for problems. I kind of think it won't be around too long...
I am sure there will be some clever business people who find a way to utilize this technology to their advantage. It will be intersting to see how, and if, that evolves.
Ironically, the generations who have embraced technology as the foundation of their social fiber are now using it in ever changing ways to establish personal connections. I can't see myself ever adding this to my technical repertoire, although the premise (at its most innocent) is interesting. I thought I would share it with all of you in an attempt to have at least some idea of what our teenagers are up to!