A Glimpse Into the Strange World of Today's Digital YouthS

Most of the youngsters who will be starting college this Fall were born in 1992. To help professors bridge that generational chasm, Beloit College prepares an annual list of cultural and technological touchstones for incoming freshman. Man, kids are weird.

Every year since 1998, Beloit has compiled the list as a "catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation." And what a strange worldview it is. Here are a few of Beloit's sorta-amusing, sorta-frightening findings that are relevant to our purposes:

1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

10. A quarter of the class has at least one immigrant parent, and the immigration debate is not a big priority…unless it involves "real" aliens from another planet.

16. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.

19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.

20. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.

26. Unless they found one in their grandparents' closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.

27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.

28. They've never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.

31. The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.

43. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.

48. Someone has always gotten married in space.

62. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.

65. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.

OK, some of those are pretty dumb, like things adults think kids might think (has any student in the class of 2014 ever actually heard of the Michelangelo virus?). Others just make it seem like our high school curricula need a serious overhaul.

But a few of the items on the list, like kids never having twirled a telephone cord around their finger, are actually kind of profound, and a little bit sad. And when these kids are graduating, the group that's matriculating will undoubtedly live in a world that's even stranger. [Beloit via NYT Bits]

Image credit D Sharon Pruitt