Don Tapscott was one of the first writers to stake a claim in the net generation gold rush. In 1998 he published Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation. Tapscott doesn't waste any time getting to the point and he doesn't hold back on the bold claims. On page 1: "For the first time in history, children are more comfortable, knowledgeable, and literate than their parents about an innovation central to society. And it is through the use of the digital media that the N-Generation will develop and superimpose its culture on the rest of society. Boomers stand back. Already these kids are learning, playing, communicating, working, and creating communites very differently than their parents. They are a force for social transformation" (pp.1-2). Later he gets more specific, claiming that access to interactive, digital technologies is creating a generation of critical thinkers: "They accept little at face value...unlike the TV generation which had no viable means to interact with media content, The N-Generation has the tools to challenge ideas, people, statements - anything. These youth love to argue and debate..they are also learning to think critically as well" (p. 88).
What is the empirical basis for Growing Up Digital? On the surface, it sounds solid: discussions with about 300 children ranging in age from 4 to 20, balanced in terms of gender, geography and socio-economic status. However no details are provided as to how these participants were recruited, how the balance was achieved, and to what degree the sample is representative. Furthermore, all the discussions were held in an online discussion forum which would tend to skew the sample to participants who were already predisposed to use online communication technologies.