Changing Communication Styles Impacts Intergenerational Bonds

AARP and Microsoft conducted a joint research a few years ago. This research’s objective was to see how technology is impacting our modes of communication. I would like to share some of their findings with you as you consider your communication with different generations.

Asked how they wanted to stay connected with their families, 63% of those 13-25 said via text. 40% of 39-58 years of age and 19% of those 59-75 years of age also wanted texting to be their main mode of communication. Email, on the other hand was mainly preferred by older people: 60% of those 59-75 years of age and 56% of those 39-58 years of age used email as the main communication method. Between 18-25 years of age 46% preferred email as the main communication mean while only 36% preferred it out of those 13-17 years of age.

Regarding social media, there were both expected and unexpected results. A more expected finding about social media was that 30% of younger people find social networking sites exciting versus only 7% of older respondents. An unexpected result was that 18% of younger respondents versus 11% of older respondents said they are intimidated by social networking sites.

Although 98% of responders reported feeling at ease going online, a majority of responders (56%) were concerned about staying safe and secure online with 60% of young adults and 50% of teenagers being extremely or very concerned about safety and security online.

Perhaps surprisingly, younger respondents are more private about their online communication than older people. 47% of the young respondents say they place restrictions on how much they show their parents while 32% of parents place restrictions on what their teenage children can access. Teens are also more likely to restrict what their grandparents can see (47%) than their grandparents restricting what their grandchildren can see (38%). Younger responders are more concerned (30%) than older ones (4%) by what their family members might post on their sites. The biggest reason parent responders had for keeping a separation between family and social networking was their concern on the comments left on their “wall” by younger generations and the personal nature of their content.

A final interesting statistic was the gap in perception between a teen’s behavior in dealing with comfortable online content and their parents’ perception of how their teens deal with this type of content. 49% of parents said their teens know to come to when they see something only line that makes them uncomfortable while 29% of teens report know how to go to their parents when uncomfortable content is seen.

It is important to understand that communication is viewed uniquely by each generation. To keep the lines of communication open, finding ways to bridge gaps between different communication styles is key to staying connected.

What obstacles do you find in inter-generational communication? What bridges have you built to close the gap of inter-generational communication? I’d love to read your comment.

To read more in this report please access the following urls:

http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/general/Connecting-Generations.pdf

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Connecting%20Generations_0.pdf

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