Youth today have a bad reputation. Supposedly, they want to move back in with their parents after university, they bully each other online and they don’t respect copyright laws.

Author Don Tapscott thinks these stereotypes are hogwash and recently published the results of a $4 million study in his book Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing your World.

Tapscott recently sat down with IT World Canada at Showcase Ontario and discussed his book.


Tapscott said there is no evidence young people today have worse social skills than their parents.

“Time online is not taken away from hanging out with your friends or talking to your parents,” he said. “It’s taking time away from television. When the baby boomers were kids watching TV, you could hardly say that was social activity.”

He also decried the image presented by some detractors of today’s youth.

He summed up a common stereotype: “They don’t give a damn apparently, they’re not voting, they’re a generation that steals, they don’t respect intellectual property, they’re violent they’ re bullies online and on and on and on it goes.”

But he added his research shows otherwise.

“This negative view of young people is basically without foundation,” he said. “It’s not supported by the data. And in fact the cynics and detractors of youth appear to be making this stuff up.”

By contrast, he said, spending time online prepares today’s youth well for the workplace.

“Overall, they have better active working memories,” Tapscott said. “They have better switching abilities between activities, they are better manipulators of information. They naturally know how to collaborate better than baby boomers. In their culture is the new culture of work.”