Are You a Digital Native or Digital Immigrant?

The digital native views technology as a normal part of life.

The digital native views technology as a normal part of life.

Emerging media will soon be a thing of the past as digital natives become the norm.

For now, it’s simply a phrase that makes the new and different a little more palatable to the generations whose interactions with media meant turning pages of newsprint, listening around the radio or watching the Big Three networks on television.

In 2001, Marc Prensky wrote of digital natives:

“Today‟s students – K through college – represent the first generations to grow up with this new technology. They have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age. Today‟s average college grads have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives reading, but over 10,000 hours playing video games (not to mention 20,000 hours watching TV). Computer games, email, the Internet, cell phones and instant messaging are integral parts of their lives.”

I have three digital natives (children) who will never know the feeling of not having change for a pay phone or having to be at a desktop computer to check email. They will not understand why people would read the news a half a day after it happened or why they had to go to a library reference section to research a term paper. Those of us who remember these hardships or cling to them are “digital immigrants,” according to Prensky.

Even though he wrote about the shift 13 years ago, it holds true. I want to be adaptable enough to embrace all things digital, but it wasn’t my first language. I feel strange texting people I don’t know or even calling people on their cell phone. I have never paid for an iTunes song or use a iPod. I am somewhat skeptical of the latest and greatest social media, unless it is widely used and I feel like I am losing out on its usefulness.

I graduated college the first time in 1997, so I missed being a native by a few years.

Posted in Digital Natives
One comment on “Are You a Digital Native or Digital Immigrant?
  1. Jan says:

    Food for thought. How long should parents hold their young ones back from digital items? I agree with your article and embrace the digital age, but I still read the paper each morning.

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