SansBlogue  
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
 
Digital Natives ::

Jason Ohler (a visiting Alaskan digicrat) seems [according to the report in IDG's Computerworld] to have had the usual things to say to the Telecommunication Users Association’'s education conference, more computers, not the 1950s blah, blah, blah...

However, he apparently used the striking phrases "digital natives" and "digital immigrants" to describe the generations (children at school today are native to a digital world, most of their teachers have migrated here!

Actually he "borrowed" the phrases, from Marc Prensky who used them in a fascinating article of the same name in 2001. I love the metaphor, it describes where we live round here, and I resonated to Ohler's comment:
They need a media literacy course. They need to know how to handle this flood of information and to pick out the real information.
Kids may be digital natives, but like many indigenous peoples they are not critical, and here those "older and wiser" have a critical role to play...

Google (fount of all information) points to a critique of Marc Prensky by Martin Owen. Owen claims that "the slogan does not stand up to inspection". However he cites as evidence facts:
* The vast majority of children in advanced economies spend less than 30 minutes a day on computer games. The main demographic for computer games players is in fact 20-35 year-olds.
* The notion of a teenager tied to the phone calling their friends as an illustrative concept pre-dates the mobile phone (see 1960s US sitcoms). Most adults can afford to use voice rather than the cheaper SMS. Also 76% of adults in the UK have mobiles phones - this does not seem to indicate a major generation divide.
* Professional adults actually make more significant use of the different capabilities of ICT than anyone else - think of architects or accountants… or zoologists. Examine sales figures and marketing strategies of any major systems vendor.
* From the US: the highest usage of the internet at home is among 35-44 year-olds (29.2%).
That do not seem to me cogent.

Gamers may be older, in our family that's because the Digital Natives are too busy TXTing and MSNing to bother "playing boring shoot-em-ups". Which to my mind takes care of # two as well.

Professionals who use computers daily for work are not typical of their generation, the kid on MSN is.

I confess to not having a quick easy answer to Owen's last point, though I suspect it's to do with access and the need to "get a life"!


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