This year the German HCI conference (Mensch und Computer) is co-located with the German e-learning conference. The opening keynote this morning by Rolf Schulmeister was an interesting analysis of how young people use media in the context of learning. Over the last year that have been plenty of popular science books that tell us how human kind changes with the internet, e.g. Digital Native vs. Digital Immigrands by Marc Prensky (extract). The talk seriously questioned if a “Net Generation” exists and it seems that many of the properties associated with it (e.g. short attention spans, use of internet to socialize, reveal feelings through the internet, preference of graphics over text) are found based on studies where people select themselves to participate in the studies/questionnaires.
The paper (Gibt es eine »Net Generation«, in German over 130 pages) that accompanies the talk provides many interesting reference and is worthwhile a further look.