How is the Start Up Nation Responding to iGen Trends?

Each generation likes to critique its future generations. With today’s generation of kids & teens, it is an easy critique to say they are the most connected –  yet most disconnected generation.

Saturated by technology and social media, this generation known as “iGen” can often be found connected to their smart phones but less connected to the people around them.

According to Dr Aviva Goldstein a family counselor and child development expert based in Israel, “It’s true that today’s kids are engaging with each other in ways that are vastly different from the previous generation’s experience. And many families struggle with the downsides to the damaging impact of constant connection and near-addiction to our screens.”

“But technology” she feels, “has also provided kids with endless opportunities to engage with the world around them. Kids are coming up with brilliantly creative solutions to challenges and finding ways to share them with others. They are learning more about their world through videos and photos that capture what previously could only be described in text.”

“Plus, digital fluency will be increasingly beneficial in the job market as our kids grow up. Finding constructive opportunities for kids to learn to engage with technology in a healthy manner is greatly beneficial.”

So take a minute to flip the paradigm of the “disconnected youth” and to look at this generation from a different perspective.

According to Dotan Tamir the founder of BIG IDEA Educational Programs, “technology today is creating one of the most creative generations we have ever seen. A generation where each person has the power to create without boundaries and regardless of age.”

In Israel we find camps, after school programs and even gap year programs that empower this generation to impact society with their skills. Getting kids involved with technology in a positive way, will ultimately benefit the State of Israel – those involved in the tech and cyber security industry already know that.

Therefore the role that kids and teens play within technology today has shifted from consumer to producer.

Here are some examples of how these trends have shifted and how older generations can help this iGen generation use their skills to be productive contributors to society.

Who Creates Content Today?

In the past if you wanted to create a professional tourism video capturing the essence of an ATV adventure in the desert, you had to hire an expensive helicopter & videographer to produce and edit a video that would cost you thousands of dollars.

GuyTV at BIG IDEA
Guy TV Israel’s most popular teenage YouTuber (Credit: BIG IDEA)

Today kids and teens use drones that they can purchase for a few hundred dollars or can build on their own. They attach a go pro camera to the drone and send it up to create the footage they are looking for. Within minutes on their smartphone, that video can be edited with music, speed, text and other special effects to create a professional advertising video and then uploaded to be shared. That is content created by kids for all ages to enjoy.

Who Controls Distribution?

Growing up as a child we always made sure to be home at 8pm on Thursday night to watch the Cosby Show. The TV stations dictated the timing and the commercials we had to watch to see our favorite shows.

BIG IDEA Video
YouTube Camp at BIG IDEA

Today, most of the iGen generation choose to watch their content on YouTube at the time they choose. Not only do they dictate when and what they will watch but kids & teens are even able to create the content and upload it themselves to their own channels. This inspires creativity and has taken down all the boundaries that used to exist in distribution.

How Can a Teenager Be Involved in Cyber Security?

Learning to defend computers from hacking also known as cyber security has become an important topic in technology camps. Who would have thought that kids would want to be part of a cyber security camp?

Today programing camps exist around the world and especially in Israel where the culture encourages kids to learn to prevent hacks and to program apps and websites. There are even gap year programs that offer those kids incredible jobs in the army intelligence agency after they complete their course.

CyberCamp
CyberCamp simulates working in a discreet cyber facility.

Can you believe that a Gap Year program or a summer camp experience can end up helping the security of an entire country?

How Will Our Kids Use VR?

Virtual Reality used to be a technology you would find when you went to one of the world’s largest amusement parks. Using technology that was extremely expensive they created a “real life” experience you could only get at Disney Land.

Today you can create your own VR viewer from cardboard, use your smartphone to see VR movies and very soon there will be VR cameras (being created in Israel) you can buy to create your own VR content.

BIG IDEA VR-2
VR Courses at BIG IDEA

It is without a doubt that the iGen will find a way to socialize VR and make it more personal. Making the world an even smaller place.

How do these trends help create one of the most creative generations we have seen so far?

How is Israel at the forefront of encouraging kids to use their skills to create and add to society?

Israel is a hotbed for creative entrepreneurship in technology and well known for its start up nation culture. This translates into school programs, camp programs and gap year programs that focus on helping kids & teens learn the skills they need to create, in a social environment.

According to Dotan Tamir who runs many of these programs, “Jewish children from across the world are feeling connected to Israel in new ways and proud of Israel’s technology reputation. It has become a new reason to bond with your past and to make sure Israel is part of your future”.

In Israel the newest tech trends are well received and encouraged. 

Are you a VC or do you work in high tech in Israel? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

There are still concerns about this generations socialization & attention span but if you harness their skills and guide them to use their skills productively then we may be raising the most creative & productive generation of our lifetime – and Israel is at the forefront.

About the Author
Joanna Shebson runs Fun In Jerusalem, a Jerusalem tourism website that inspires family fun & Party in Jerusalem inspiring families to celebrate Bar/Bat Mitzvas in Israel. She and her husband made aliyah in 2007 from Los Angeles and love living in Jerusalem with their three kids. Joanna has an MBA from Kellogg Business School and is known for thinking out of the box especially when entertaining her kids.
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