<strong><img class="caption" src="images/stories/digitaloverload/digital-overload-101108-02.jpg" border="0" title="Credit: Dreamstime"></strong>

<p></p> <p>It seems as though adults complain more often than kids today that their lives are inundated by information and the Web, and that the more they do, the less they get done. Younger people just don't feel as weighed down by their digital-centric lifestyles, studies show. Kids have never known anything else besides the digital environment in which they have grown up – whereas adults have had to adjust. But what can adults learn about navigating this brave, new digital world by watching kids?</p> <p></p>

<strong>Obligation-free</strong>

<p></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong></strong></p> <p>For those who have grown up with the Internet, going back and forth between <a href="http://internet-browser-review.toptenreviews.com/?a_aid=aff1010">various browser windows and platforms</a>, and then pausing to respond to a text, seems like second nature. But just because the resources are all there, kids don't feel like they have to be wired in to everything.</p> <p>"Younger people are more plugged in than adults, but they don't feel any obligation to be," Scott Campbell, an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan, told TechNewsDaily. "Some people will always like their information fed to them through a newspaper and others will want to select the news they want to read online. It's a generational thing. Older demographics tend to be more focused on one thing, whereas kids prefer to just pick and choose what they want."</p> <p></p>

<strong>The filtering method</strong>

<p></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><br></strong></p> <p>John Barrett, the director of research for market research firm Parks Associated, which specializes in consumer technology trends, believes young consumers approach various platforms differently than adults by focusing on what they care about: "Some kids receive up to 300 texts a day, but they aren’t responding to all of them," Barrett said. "They don't feel the need to do so. They are selecting which messages seem to be the highest priorities and then they respond. It feels like less of a task for them."</p> <p>Barrett likens the method to the Caller ID feature on a phone. "Before Caller ID, people would pick up the phone just to see if it was someone calling about something important," Barrett said. "Now, you can see who is calling and gauge whether or not you want to talk right away. Kids are filtering in the same way, but it’s something that adults don’t always feel comfortable doing. Some think balancing all of these platforms can be a burden and suck time out of the day."</p> <p></p>

<strong>Language</strong>

<p></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><br></strong></p> <p>Another key element that helps the younger generation avoid digital overload is that they keep communication short and sweet. "Language is always evolving," said Erik Qualman, author of the best-selling book, "Socialnomics: How <a alt="((CONLINK|834|social%20media))" href="http://www.technewsdaily.com/834-social-media-huge-and-here-to-stay.html">social media</a> transforms the way we live and do business” (Wiley Publishing, 2009).</p> <p>"It's difficult to read <a alt="((CONLINK|775|Shakespeare))" href="http://www.technewsdaily.com/775-information-overload-digital-age-presents-new-problems-for-historians.html">Shakespeare</a> now because language has shifted," Qualman said. "Similarly, kids these days can get to the point really quick in about 140 characters or less because of these new tools. When you get a post from someone who is older, they tend to write more — which takes up more time not only for the writer but for the recipient."</p> <p>Many also enjoy manipulating language and abbreviating words through texts and Facebook posts, whereas adults may spend extra time making sure their grammar and spelling are correct, he added.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Efficiency</strong>

<p></p> <p><strong><br></strong></p> <p>Although many studies have been conducted about how multitasking can be extremely counterproductive, Qualman argues that social media and mobile use can in fact be very useful in certain situations. For example, research has shown that on average people spend between five and seven years waiting in line: "You can spend your time daydreaming or make use of it in other ways," he said. "Sure, you can pick up a <a alt="((CONLINK|1462|newspaper))" href="http://www.technewsdaily.com/1462-digital-advertising-growth-outpaced-by-the-hype.html">newspaper</a> or a phone, but a newspaper can be limiting and talking on the phone can be disruptive to other people around you."</p> <p>And although many teens and young adults are turning more to social networking sites, adults seem to think they are using all of them. "That's a misnomer — kids aren't on all Farmville, Twitter, Foursquare and other platforms; in most cases, they are just sticking with Facebook and YouTube," Qualman said. "Kids gravitate to what they find the most useful and that in itself is efficient."</p> <p></p>

<strong>Embracing a communication change</strong>

<p></p> <p><strong><br></strong></p> <p>Although many adults feel as though certain digital platforms are an addition to e-mail, teens do not. In fact, only <a alt="((CONLINK|890|11%20percent%20of%20teens%20use%20e-mail%20))" href="http://www.technewsdaily.com/890-teens-lead-the-way-in-shift-away-from-email.html">11 percent of teens use e-mail </a> to communicate with friends each day and choose instead to interact in different ways. "E-mail doesn't support real-time, flexible contact with others," Campbell said. "You have to log in and also be online. Teens carry their phones with them [everywhere] and they can text their friends without stopping everything to respond. Teens do e-mail, but not as much as they prefer to <a alt="((CONLINK|359|communicate%20in%20other%20ways))" href="http://www.technewsdaily.com/359-teens-prefer-texting-vs-calling-except-to-parents.html">communicate in other ways</a> . But if adults aren’t checking e-mail several times a day, they feel like they’re missing something."</p> <p></p>

<strong>Work and play</strong>

<p></p> <p><strong><br></strong></p> <p>Another reason the stress of being digitally overloaded is felt more by adults than younger people is that one group is doing it mostly for play. "Kids multitask to have fun — they go on Facebook, text with their friends, play video games and so on," said Sandra L. Calvert, a professor and director of the Children's Digital Media Center at Georgetown University. "But for adults who try to multitask while they have a lot of actual work that needs to get done, that's counterproductive and [that's] when they start to feel the <a href="http://www.livescience.com/health/digital-overload-brains-struggling-attention-101108.html">digital overload</a>."</p>

Six Ways Young People Avoid Digital Overload