<p></p> <p>You may be tech-savvy, but if you're over 40, your cultural references won’t be recognizable to this year's incoming college freshmen. Need proof? Each year, Beloit College surveys new students to determine their cultural "touchstones."</p> <p>"Members of this year’s freshman class, most of them born in 1993, are the first generation to grow up taking the word 'online' for granted," Tom McBride, co-author of the study from Beloit, said in the introduction to "The Mindset List for the Class of 2015." "Ferris Bueller could be their overly cautious dad."</p> <p>Here are 10 tech touchstones selected from Beloit's list of 75.</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p>"Amazon has never been just a river in South America."</p> <p>It's an unending stream of books, movies, electronics and just about any other product imaginable  ̶   new, used, refurbished and leased.</p> <p>Named after the world’s widest and second-longest river, <a alt="((CONLINK|3099|Amazon))" href="">Amazon</a> has become the world’s biggest online retailer, with annual sales of $34 billion.</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p>"They 'swipe' cards, not merchandise."</p> <p>Debit cards, credit cards and rewards cards are all swiped through point-of-sale machines. However, <a alt="((CONLINK|2881|mobile%20payments))" href="">mobile payments</a> are on the way. Soon, paying may entail only waving a phone near a reader, and wallets will go the way of watches.</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p>"Their schools' 'blackboards' have always been getting smarter."</p> <p>Forget chalk. Today's "blackboards" are white and wired.</p> <p>Think of the whiteboard as a souped-up overhead projector. But unlike projectors that use transparencies as part of the lesson, Smart Boards and similar products allow <a alt="((CONLINK|769|teachers))" href="">teachers</a> to save their interactive lessons as digital files and share them with students.</p> <p>Over the last 10 years, interactive whiteboards have become the dominant classroom-display solution, and in 2009 they became a $1 billion industry, according to FutureSource Consulting.</p> <p>CliffsNotes? Who needs them?</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p>"Don’t touch that dial!" "Um, what dial?"</p> <p>College kids simply don't remember gadgets with dials. They don't get up to change the channel on the TV or turn up the volume on the car radio.</p> <p>The digital era ushered in button controls, which are heading toward extinction as <a href="" target="_blank" title="Touchscreen cell phones review">touch screens</a> take over.</p> <p>Touch-screen devices have exploded over the past three years, thanks in large part to Apple's iPhone.  Today, two-thirds of all touch screens are found in mobile phones, according to Display Search, but watch for larger devices to shift to touch as well, including in-car displays, laptops and <a href="" target="_blank" title="All-in-one PC review">all-in-one computers</a>.</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p>"Dial-up is soooooooooo last century!"</p> <p>Now that we've passed into the second decade since dial-up was prevalent, the excruciatingly slow and noisy <a alt="((CONLINK|2794|Internet%20connection))" href="">Internet connection</a> via a phone line has been relegated to the 1900s along with the Model-T.</p> <p>Only around 10 percent of Americans still use dial-up, according to a Pew Internet and American Life survey, compared with 24 percent in 2007.</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p>"The younger generation's "alleged deficits of concentration" have constantly been a worry for adult experts."</p> <p>Susan Greenfield, a neuroscientist at Oxford University, says modern technology is changing the way our brains work. "This games-driven generation interpret the world through <a alt="((CONLINK|2850|screen-shaped%20eyes))" href="">screen-shaped eyes</a> ," she said in the Daily Mail. "It's almost as if something hasn't really happened until it's been posted on Facebook, Bebo or YouTube."</p> <p>But tech-related warnings have been with us for decades. Ask grandpa.  In 1936, the music magazine the Gramophone reported that children had "developed the habit of dividing attention between the humdrum preparation of their school assignments and the compelling excitement of the loudspeaker."</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p>"Electric cars have always been humming in relative silence on the road."</p> <p>These kids hadn't even started kindergarten when Toyota launched the Prius, the first mass-produced hybrid car. Today hybrids like the Prius and <a alt="((CONLINK|2701|all-electric%20vehicles))" href="">all-electric vehicles</a> by Nissan, Chevy and Mitsubishi rarely warrant a second look.</p> <p>Americans have been slow to trade in their gas guzzlers for EVs, primarily due to higher costs, according to J.D. Powers.  However, the Obama administration is offering $7,500 federal income tax credits to buyers to help jump-start sales. California offers a $5,000 rebate to its residents who buy electric.</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p>"Their parents have always been able to create a will and other legal documents online."</p> <p>Going to law school may not seem quite as appealing to this crop of freshmen. They may know people who, for instance,  have used a $29.95 do-it-yourself divorce kit online, just one of the thousands of <a href="" target="_blank" title="Online Legal Forms Review">legal forms</a> available online.</p> <p>It may not be long before the solo lawyer goes the same way as the country doctor.</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p>"They’ve often broken up with their significant others via texting, <a alt="((CONLINK|2971|Facebook))" href="">Facebook</a> , or MySpace."</p> <p>Today's equivalent of the "Dear John" letter is a quick electronic message. College freshmen prefer it to their parents' awkward phone calls or even more uncomfortable face-to-face breakups.</p> <p>But guidance is forthcoming from the experts. Last month, the Boston Public Health Commission sponsored a one-day conference on healthy breakups that included a class on Facebook breakup etiquette. The leader wore a “Face It, Don’t Facebook It” pin, according to the New York Times.</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p>"Music has always been available via free downloads."</p> <p>This may not be true for the generation that follows the Class of 2015; the music industry is tightening up. Since the free-music service Napster shut down in 2001, the incoming freshmen may know Napster only from Justin Timberlake in last year's hit film "The Social Network." Its replacement, popular peer-to-peer site Limewire, was closed by the U.S. Justice Department earlier this year. And Apple raised the prices of its iTunes from $ .99 to $1.29.</p> <p>Streaming music services have filled the gap between iTunes and the radio such as Pandora and <a alt="((CONLINK|2890|Spotify))" href="">Spotify</a> . But just like a radio, if you want to listen for free you will hear ads.</p> <p>For parents feeling the distance of the so-called generation gap, there's good news. McBride predicts technology will continue to advance at a faster pace than ever before.</p> <p>"If you look at the jump from email to texting, or from email to Facebook, it's been faster than the jump from typing to computers," McBride said. "These generational gaps are getting smaller."</p> <p>More family tech on TND:</p>

What Are They Thinking? Tech Assumptions of the Class of 2015