The Myth Of The Digital Natives
In the car on the way back from our holiday in Filey, Steph said to me that her friends were always surprised that I was on Facebook and Twitter long before she was. I was working in cafe’s, using a tablet PC and enjoying the benefits of social networks before the term Digital Native was born.
I have four digital natives in my house right now, my eldest daughter back from Cambridge for the holidays who’s used a laptop and a smartphone all day long (including at school) for the last 10 years. My younger daughters who have all had laptops and smartphones for the last 6. They are accomplished users of technology and are quick to learn the simple apps on their iPhones. Ideas, apps and fads spread through the school in hours. They are true digital natives, BUT …
They are no more native than I am, or any of my friends and colleagues at work. They lack understanding of the operating systems and apps that they use. The lack of history that they have in computing means that they understand how to use, but not when to use or what to do when things go wrong. The younger kids don’t even understand what an operating system or an application ‘is’. Windows, IOS and Android are just brand names to them. Apps are just visual interfaces to ‘something’ they don’t understand, they have little concept of what WIFI, 3G and Wired networks are, how they work etc.
So my contention in that the digital native is not very relevant as a classification. We have two generations who are natives now. The youngsters AND the people in their 40-50’s who have used computers for the last 10-20 years every day, who have seen it all and know how all the pieces of computing fit together and work, people like me. I can’t really remember a time without computers, they’ve been an extension of my brain for so long, longer than any of my children have been alive. In all meaningful ways I’m the true digital native!
Todays picture is of Lobster/Crab traps piled up at Scarborough, I walked there from Filey this week. In all this discussion of computing it’s nice to see some good old traditional ‘fishing’ still happening.