The overall way I'd characterize their experience of technology is technologically integrated. They expect an iPhone-like minimal interface to be the window through which you perform all technological tasks; even a distinct UI like a TV remote control has been becoming more and more of a simple thin window into a complex on-screen interface.
Whereas my generation's technologies were technologically separate--each had its own distinct interface, physical location, and rules, often quite obscure and complex: the Nintendo required fiddling and blowing, TV and video cords needed to be switched in and out, videogame controllers for different systems had different layouts, cameras had a dozen quirky physical options and switches.
The telephone was such a fundamental communications medium that it became native to me and my siblings at a very early age. Same with keyboards and mice: I vividly remember going through the introductory exercises on the first Macintosh my family got in 1988, and learning what dragging and keyboard shortcuts were.
The seven- and eight-year-olds I teach are very unfamiliar with physical keyboards, mice and even touchpads. There's all sorts of elementary concepts that I have to specifically teach them, like:
- how to anchor the position of a mouse with the fingers that touch the table so it doesn't move when you click it
- the existence of different mouse buttons
- the fact that you can lift your mouse or finger up and bring it down further away to give yourself more room
- the idea that the meaningful area of the on-screen cursor is the tip of the arrow or finger and not the center
- the role of the shift key and the need to hold it down while briefly pressing another key rather than pressing both at once
- common keyboard shortcuts.
I've been seriously thinking about getting a typewriter!