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Pronounced /ˈskriːnˌeɪdʒə/Help with IPA

You must have met one of these; you may even have one or two sprawled about the house. Screenagers are techno-savvy young people, reared on television and computers. The term was coined in 1997 by Douglas Rushkoff in his book Playing the Future. He argues that young people who have used computers and other microchipped devices since infancy will have effortless advantages over their elders in processing information and coping with change when they reach adulthood. Their short attention spans, now disparaged by educators and parents, may be an advantage in coping with the huge mass of disparate bits of information that will bombard the wired person of the 21st century. Some critics point out that these arguments are not new, that people have long argued that we should learn from our children, and have savaged the book’s thesis as the eternal generation gap dressed up in digital clothes. But the renowned journalistic ability to spot a good catchword means that the term is likely to have a good innings.

Page created 10 Jan. 1998

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World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 10 January 1998.