Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

ACMA, Licencing, and Examination discussion
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Re: Exam / Licence Price & Young People ..

Post by VK2FJCM » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:54 am

This has been a most interesting thread to read. I'd like to offer my viewpoint on young people's interest in Amateur Radio based on my experience.

I have two boys who are now sixteen and eleven. Growing up they've seen Dad's radios at home, in the car and portable with the subsequent antennas and cables all over the place. They've seen me build antennas from scratch, test and tune them and use them to talk to people. They've heard me converse with people from all over Australia and the world both over the air as well as via Echolink. When they were a bit younger they were fascinated with the technology and the various accents and coming to grips with where those voices from the speaker or the tablet were actually coming from. They've heard me participate in weekly Nets with friends as well as complete strangers some of which have become regular contacts. They've seen me participate in Field Days and set up a portable radio station whilst camping. They were genuinely interested as young kids tend to be with new experiences. I've let them have the mic a few times and they genuinely enjoyed talking to some Amateurs and other kids their age during JOTA.

As they've become older their interests have been drawn to the Internet-connected world. They converse with mates on Skype, Whatsapp, Twitter, Hangouts, SMS, MMS and all from the convenience of a small mobile phone or iPad at a running cost of about $25 per month and with no hint on needing a license to do so. They use some of these apps at the same time and can have conversations with two or more people at the same time.

Back in a time machine for a second and I can recall listening to AM Broadcast radio at night and marveled at how I could tune in stations that I simply couldn't hear during the day. From Sydney, I was picking up stations in Tasmania, Melbourne even New Zealand on some occasions. I recall buying a small 3 channel 11m HF handheld transceiver from Tandy and going up on my Dad's roof to talk to some people a few suburbs away. Over the course of the next two years that progressed to a full 520s station, 3 element beam and homebrew 2 element quads and dipoles which drove my parents nuts but as a young boy, my interest in matters Radio was insatiable and this at a time when the cost of equipment was significantly higher than it is today. Bad girls and cars eventually drew me away from the hobby but I've always had that original spark of interest and I have only reentered the hobby in the last 12 or so years.

Both of my sons astound their Mother and I with their level of technical knowledge for their age which is something we certainly didn't have when we were their age even though we did not have the technology they have access to today. It's my observation that my sons and their peers have no and will probably never have any interest in Amateur Radio, Digital Modes, DMR, Echolink, etc. Their attention span observing what to them is a legacy method of communication is minimal at best and I personally cannot see them ever spending money on Amateur Radio equipment and Licensing when they can get a Smartphone that will do all they want and need to at this stage of their life and for the foreseeable future for around $200 or less.

My long-winded point is that kids today rarely if ever experience that same spark that I and many of you experienced with radio as a kid or adult that keeps you in the hobby. Add to that the fact even if they were so inclined to study, get a license and equipment how long would they last in it as they continue to experience our ever-changing technological world. I may be wrong, but I can't see my sons who've experienced the joy I have from this hobby pursue it the same way I did even with the plug and play style of Amateur Radio that exists today.

I really hope that I'm wrong and that younger people do get into the hobby and stay in it. I just can't see it at the moment and I'm not sure that the problem is so much with Amateur radio and how we get to the stage of getting licensed, buy gear and pursue the hobby but more to do with the range of competing and cheaper alternatives that draw the attention and dollars of our youth.
Jindabyne, NSW

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