I noticed something strange the other day; during two trips through my town centre, one on the way back from the train and other whilst returning from ASDA I noticed a group of teenagers hadn't moved from a particular spot on a bench. Now this may not seem like anything unusual apart from the fact that they had seemingly been sat there for over an hour, and also appeared not to have parted from their phones.
My partner then informed me that the particular bench they were sitting on was the best place to get free Wi-Fi in the area, as there are four open connections there. This got me thinking that at the age of 22 how much the telephone has changed in the last few years. When I was 15 the thought of being able to sit on a bench and access free Internet through my phone was pretty unfathomable, and for my partner, who is 29, the thought of doing so when he was 15 would have been even more preposterous.
As my brain began to fathom the thought some more, it made me realise that in the last thirty years the technology that allows everyone to communicate has changed vastly, and that the issues for teenagers communicating with each other whilst out and about has changed rapidly as well.
Long gone are the days that your parents talk about when you had to "knock on" to see if someone's in. In fact the though of knocking someone's door not knowing whether they are in or not seems positively medieval these days. But for those who were teenagers in the 90s, thus most likely being born around 1980, the troubles that they experienced when trying to find their friends not only differ from their parents, but also greatly differ from their own children or younger siblings.
For example my partner was born in 1983, therefore the troubles he had would have been similar to others born in the early 80s. His telephone communication issues surround the phone box, which seems positively Stone Age these days, I mean I've never used a phone box in my life and there's only seven years between us. He began telling me about the problems of finding a phone box, making sure you had money to use it and the anger you would feel when you saw someone enter a pound into the aforementioned phone box. The thought of using a phone box to me seems ancient, which fills me with dread about how people feel about my teenage communication methods.
My method of teenage communication however seems a little less pre-historic as mobile phones became the norm by the late 1990s. As I was born in 1990 I was using mobile phones throughout my teens and the main issue I had was my signal cutting out, which usually resulted in dancing around like a lunatic with my arms waving above my head, trying to make my phone grab any dreg of signal that happened to be floating about. When I was 15 we also had WAP, which is an ancient form of mobile Internet only seen now in museums, but everyone knew it was rubbish so didn't really bother with mobile Internet. Besides we had MySpace and MSN to communicate through at home, my how I feel old.
This then brings me to now, I have a younger sister who's only eight years old, yet she has a mobile phone that is more advanced than mine was at the age of 18. It makes me think that by the time she is 15 the major problem when it comes to her mobile phone will be not having a 3G signal in order to Facebook her friends, tweet a whimsical yet non-informative 150 characters via Twitter or to Instagram her lunch, with the thought of actually making a phone call just passing her by. However I think this may already be happening, but as I am now clearly over the tech hill at the age of 22, it doesn't really matter.
All this said I too feel like I've been catapulted back to the Stone Age when my 3G connection cuts out, as I'm sure many of you do. But if I've never used a phone box it makes me a little sad that teenagers these days are going to have much better phones, resulting in tech traumas that I've never heard of, which quite frankly makes me a little jealous for some unknown reason. However if 3G were to cut out completely I wonder how teenagers would communicate? After all without free WI-FI that group of teenagers I saw would have just been sat on a bench, not talking to each other. Oh the joy.
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