Sunday, June 8, 2008

Digital natives, digital immigrants

Keir urges Clive to send a quick response.

Clive: I don’t agree with his results.

Keir: Twitter him saying you don’t.

Clive: Him what?

Keir: A kind of instant message.

Clive: It’s all right for you digital natives. I’m just an immigrant.

Keir: I’m no native. There’s three generations behind me.



Mark Prensky may have been the first to use the term “digital native” to describe the generation who grew up with technology and thus uses it fluently.

By contrast, “digital immigrants” are the generation who learned to use digital technology after they had grown up and are thus a little more awkward in using it.

Natives instinctively know the customs of a culture, and may speak with a “native speaker” fluency. Immigrants, however, may be unfamiliar with digital language culture associated with the information technology.

However, digital immigrants may not all be young. Plenty of children grow up in non-IT environments and there are even older people who are quite comfortable using IT devices and services.

And the simple native/immigrant distinction cannot explain why 20 year olds sometimes complain they cannot understand “the younger generation” of 15 and 16 year olds.

Could the speed of technological change be aggravating the social situation?

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