Pasadena: Reasons For Voyaging
Andy Crouch on Generational Thinking

The 5 Lane Freeway Mind

Current research has reinforced something i was teaching 7 years ago. Back in 1998, I used the concept of a 5 lane freeway to explain the new mindset. Children's minds, I argued, are not a single track country road, but a “5 lane freeway”, geared up for multi-tasking and learning from the relationships between the media in those 5 lanes at the same time. The problem is not that their attention span is short, but rather than their attention span is broad. This is why they are bored with single media presentations.


Well, fast forward to 2005, and the people from Disney have paid for some research that came up with a 5.4 number, slightly more than my number . . . but who's counting?
“Raised on more ”passive“ media, including TV, newspapers, radio and billboards, adults are content with linear entertainment experiences that unfold in a traditional story-like way. They are more patient (read: willing to wait in line) and, Lindstrom says, can cope with only about 1.7 channels of communication at once.
Children, by contrast, can simultaneously master 5.4 channels of communication (including surfing the Internet, text messaging and talking on the phone). They yearn for entertainment that is frenetic, multi-sensory and interactive.