The digital kids are alright - and ready to work!

Grown up digital
By Don Tapscott
McGraw-Hill Ryerson Canada; $30.95 (CAN)

The kids that were Growing Up Digital when author Don Tapscott wrote his best-seller in 1993 are now all grown up. The "Net Geners," as he calls them, have come of age - in 2008, the oldest of them are turning 30, the youngest are 12. They are "flooding in the workplace, marketplace and society" and many worry that growing up digital has eroded this generation's intellect, discipline, and work ethic.

Not so, counters Tapscott in his new book Grown Up Digital. Instead, he illustrates how the characteristics of the generation, which he identifies as the eight generational norms, can be leveraged to foster, among other things, productivity at work, civic engagement, and institutional change on a global scale.

Tapscott, the founder and chairman of nGenera Innovation Network and an adjunct professor of management at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, set out to analyze and discover the truth about this net generation. Through nGenera, he and his colleagues interviewed 11,000 net geners around the world, including some of the generation's biggest stars, such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and digital activist Michael Furdyk.

He discovered, "the kids are more than alright," and the story that emerges is an inspiring one. According to Tapscott, our kids:

  • prize freedom, and freedom of choice;
  • want to customize things, and make them their own;
  • are natural collaborators, who enjoy and conversation, not a lecture;
  • will scrutinize you and your organization;
  • insist on integrity, being honest, considerate, and transparent, and on living up to your commitments;
  • want to have fun, even at work and school;
  • see speed as normal; and
  • consider innovation as normal.

His book provides further insight and instructions on how to learn from them and act, for those of us who are responsible for coaching and mentoring this energetic, dynamic, and demanding generation.

To learn more or to buy the book, visit