The evolution of the computer followed the path similar to that of the printed book but in 40 years rather than 600. Like the handmade book of the Middle Age before 1960 the computers were massive, expensive, available to only few. The microelectronic revolution brought about the personal computer.
Nowadays many young people have computers at home. A lot of them spend their time in the Internet to find new information or just for fun, to chat with people all around the world, to make new friends, to play computer games. Some see their hobby as computer programming. Students have an active learning tool that gives them ready access to large stores of knowledge in ways that are not possible with books. The youth have special lessons on Computer Science ay schools, colleges and universities to become computer-literate and to learn how to send e-mail messages to their relatives who live in other cities, practice foreign languages, read newspapers or complete different tests with the help of the Internet. Many young people think the Internet will have the important influence on our daily lives in a couple of years. People can express their opinion free and no government have power to stop them.
The Internet, a global computer network which embraces millions of users all over the world, began in the United States in 1969 as military experiment. It was designed to survive in a nuclear was. Information sent over the Internet takes the shortest path available from one computer to another. Because of this any two computers on the Internet will able to stay in touch with each other as long as there is a single route between them. This technology is called packet switching. Owing to this technology, if some computers on the network are knocked out (by nuclear explosion, for example), information will just route around them.
Most of the Internet host computers (more than 50%) are in the United States while the rest are located in more that 100 other countries. Although the number of host computers can be counted fairly accurately, nobody knows exactly how many people use the Internet. There are millions, and their number is growing by thousands each month worldwide.
Among the youth the most popular Internet service is e-mail. Most of youngsters, who have access to the Internet, use the network only for sending and receiving e-mail messages. However, other popular services are available on the Internet as well: reading USENET News, using the World Wide Web, Telnet.
In many developing countries the Internet may provide businessmen with a reliable alternative to the expensive and unreliable telecommunication system of these communities. Commercial users can communicate over the Internet with the rest of the world and can do it very cheaply. But saving money is only the first step. If youngsters see that they can make money from the Internet, commercial use of this network will drastically increase.
However, some problems remain. The most important is security. When you send an e-mail message to somebody, this message can travel through many different networks and computers. Because of this, it is possible to get into any of computers along the route, intercept and even change the data being sent over the Internet. Another problem is sometimes an isolation from the reality. The excessive passion for the Internet might lead some mentally unstable youngsters to breaking the real communication with living persons of the same age, reserve and even psychic disorders. However, such problems will take time to be resolved.
How do young people spend their spare time? What leisure activities or what kinds of entertainments do they prefer? These and other questions are often asked in a sociological surveys. The results of the opinion poll conducted among young people living in big cities and in the country add up to the following hierarchy of pastimes (with minor variations from place to place): music in combination with such forms of group activities as discos, concerts, and café-cum-club come first, followed by the theatre and reading. Then come films, museums, amateur arts and engineering, listening to records, radio, going out to dances; and finally, TV and classical music. The questionnaire, circulated among students, pupils and young workers, show that the arts are regarded second only to contacts with friends (or a girl/boy friend).
Most young people admit they do not know how to plan their leisure time. To use sociological terminology, their leisure qualifications are inadequate. This is causing anxiety among some Russian scholars: has the TV really superseded reading? However, close scrutiny shows that there is little ground for worry. In 1964, when television was establishing itself in this country, 22 per cent of young people were interested more in reading. In 1970, when there was a TV set in every household, 49 per cent were for reading, and today, the figure is 45 per cent. Today’s young people could be called the tele-reading generation. In contrast to previous generations, they draw from various ‘channels’ of culture, which complement each other. What we are witnessing is an integration process involving TV-viewing, reading, and other sources of information.
As for me within the general framework of my lifestyle (including study, leisure and earning money – in summer I tried to work as a news-vendor) reading leads the way as a cultural activity, leaving both television and music behind. I can read late into the night. At a time when all are asleep it seems so quiet that I indulge in reading. I’m not a lover of poetry to my regret. Sometimes I devour book after book and I skip as I read.
Russia has a long and rich literary tradition. It leads the world for the number of titles (doth Russian and foreign) published yearly, and a number of readers. Of course the young people like to be entertained (by watching TV shows, reading detective stories, etc.). But they certainly know how to find their way amid the great variety of cultural values, and they know how to tell genuine art from imitation. A few more words about music, which play a very important part in young people’s lives. Rock is certainly more popular than classical music. Russian pop groups who play original music and meaningful texts have an especially large following.
Actually the young people know how to find antidotes to stereotyped tastes and temptations. They are getting increasingly interested in the leisure activities which encourage self-expression and personal growth.
Sport, travel, collecting, amateur arts and folk crafts are most popular in this country. The popularity of hobby clubs is growing steadily. There is a wide range of clubs all over the country. They specialize in tourism, books, health promotion, environmental protection, history, movies, drama, etc. There are also clubs where young people can simply get acquainted.