Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Calling Captain Kangaroo....

Years ago, you woke to your alarm clock, did your basic hygiene, and sat down to breakfast. You may have read the morning paper or had the TV or radio on in the background as you got your day underway. Now, things are very different in the typical American household.

The New York Times ran an article about a “typical” family in East Lansing, Michigan, to illustrate how different our morning world is these days. The dad wakes up around six, fires up his laptop, and checks his work e-mail, first thing in the morning. He surfs the net to pick up his news, spends a few moments on his social media sites, and then texts his two boys with a wake-up message.

The two boys sleep with their cell phones next to the bed. Dad’s text gets them up, and they start texting their friends as mom calls them to breakfast. Kids today don’t use alarm clocks. They set a wake-up time on their cell phone if they need to. Dad admits he uses text messages as a “household intercom”, because the boys always respond to text messages.

Mom and the kids don’t have the TV or radio in the background at the breakfast table. She’s surfing news sites, while the boys play video games on their iPods. Dad’s getting dressed and ready to head to work.

Sound familiar?

Online and wireless communication traffic patterns have adjusted to a new “normal”. According to Anchor Networks, a Boston outfit that analyzes use of the internet, traffic didn’t used to pick up until people booted up their computer at work. Now, web and wireless traffic tapers off around midnight, and begins a huge rise around 6 AM, and by 7 AM, it’s “like a rocket ship”, says the Times article.

WAY earlier than it was, just a few years ago.

What we do first thing in the morning on a workday is dramatically different from the pattern just a few years ago, and worlds away from the typical morning just a decade or so ago. The whole family may sit around the breakfast table at the same time, but it’s likely each member has their own electronic device of one sort or another, and they’re each doing their own thing.

When I was a boy, we had one TV set in the house, and if my sister and I got up early on weekends, we managed our own cereal and milk, and watched the test pattern (remember that?) until the cartoons came on. My kids, who were born in the early 80’s, each had their own TV in their bedroom, one in the kitchen, and another in the living room.

Now, they use their TV’s more for playing games like “Rock Band” or “Guitar Hero”, and they get their news from the RSS feeds on their smart phones and the constant barrage of text messages they receive and send.

It’s likely the morning routine of their kids will involve devices, technologies, and content platforms that haven’t even been invented yet - as alien to us, as smart phones and the internet were to our parents.

1 comment:

  1. Growing up in the 50's there was no elegant communication. Getting up in the morning? A family of five having one bathroom, you sprang out of bed! The wooden screen door on a stiff spring? Whack! Robbie's home! And yelling, with inflection, across the street, even if you couldn't make out the message, by tone, everyone knew who's mom and the importance of the situation. Never a problem with a power outage or a dead battery