I am not a “Digital Native.” I am a “Digital Immigrant.”

Digital Natives
Tonight at my Book Club, I mentioned a very interesting term I heard on the radio yesterday as I headed to buy some fabric.  They were talking about how older people who are not “digital natives” are often discriminated against when they are applying for positions or employment.  The term was new to my “typewriter native” mind.  As I sat clutching my hardcover book made of bound pages, I thought how very quickly our world has changed since I graduated from Reedley High School 38 years ago, in 1977.

1977 was the year the first personal or home computers were introduced on the market.  They may have been there, but having a personal computer was years away for most of us.  I went off to BYU with a brand new typewriter.  I still keep a typewriter on hand, just in case I might need it.  Liquid Paper was an amazing invention, taking the place of typewriter erasers with a bristle brush on one end.  We typed assignments and prayed we wouldn’t make a mistake that would require re-typing entire pages.

Typewriter eraser  Liquid Paper  1977 Typewriter
I purchased my first personal computer 10 years later in 1987, after returning from 4 years in Africa where we had a manual typewriter because we didn’t always have access to a generator for electricity.  That wasn’t so long ago.  My kids can’t comprehend the thought of it.  Their lives revolve around technology and gadgets.  I’ve tried to keep up with the times, and sometimes feel fairly confident with my Smart Phone, Facebook accounts, email distribution lists, and even this Blog.  But the truth is, I’m so far behind, I will never ever be able to catch up.  And there are many days when I have no desire to.  My dream world is one without technology.  Give me a pencil and notebook, or wrap me in a quilt with a book, or set me on a path through a pasture with a rainstorm in the distance coming at me. That is where I am comfortable and feel at home.

Digital Natives
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The term digital native was coined and popularized by education consultant, Marc Prensky in his 2001 article entitled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, in which he relates the contemporaneous decline in American education to educators’ failure to understand the needs of modern students. His article posited that “the arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decade of the 20th century” had changed the way students think and process information, making it difficult for them to excel academically using the outdated teaching methods of the day. In other words, children raised in a digital, media-saturated world, require a media-rich learning environment to hold their attention, and Prensky dubbed these children “digital natives”.

Prensky did not strictly define the digital native in his 2001 article, but it was later, arbitrarily, applied to children born after 1980.  The idea became popular among educators and parents, whose children fell within Prensky’s definition of a digital native, and has since been embraced as an effective marketing tool.  It is important to note that Prensky’s original paper was not a scientific one, and that no empirical data exists to support his claims. He has since abandoned his digital native metaphor in favor of digital wisdom.

Conflicts between generations
Due to the obvious divide set between digital natives and digital immigrants, sometimes both generations are forced to meet which commonly results in conflicting ideologies of digital technology. The everyday regime of worklife is becoming more technologically advanced with improved computers in offices, more complicated machinery in industry etc. With technology moving so fast it is hard for digital immigrants to keep up.

This creates conflicts among older supervisors and managers with the increasingly younger workforce. Similarly, parents clash with their children at home over gaming, texting, YouTube, Facebook and other Internet technology issues. Much of the world’s Millennialsand Generation Z members are digital natives. According to law professor and educator John Palfrey, there may be substantial differences between digital natives and non digital natives, in terms of how people see relationships and institutions and how they access information. In spite of this, the timetable for training young and old on new technology is about the same.

Digital Alphabet

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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