Natives or Not?

Boyd (2014) Literacy

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

ISTE Standards for Teachers

In recent discussions of Digital Natives versus Digital Immigrants a controversial issue has been whether or not we should assume that they know everything there is to know about technology. On one hand some argue that the “Digital Natives” know everything there is to know about technology, some argue that we don’t really need to teach them anything (technology related;) it’s assumed they have a broad understanding of all technology when in fact, they may not. On the other hand some argue that Digital Natives don’t know everything about technology. According to this view not all kids these days are exposed to as much technology as it may be assumed they are, especially if they come from lower income families. In sum then, the issue is whether or not we should assume that the Digital Natives know everything there is to know about technology, even more than the “Digital Immigrants” do. My own view is that the Digital Natives do not all know the same things, or use technology in the same way and it is wrong of us, especially as educators to assume that because they’ve grown up with technology they automatically know how to use it. Though I concede that many kids these days are tech savvy, I still maintain the idea that we should not assume they know everything; in assumning they have the ability to work all technology and already have previous knowledge only hurts the students. For example when you get a group of students in a classroom, it can’t be assumed that they all know how to use Google to look up something they need for a class or how to make sure they’re getting legit sources. It’s easy to assume children these days know how to use basic search engines, but they may not actually know how to. Not all kids come from households where they have technology readily available to them at any time, so they don’t grow up learning how to do these technology related things that seem like second nature to many. Although some might object it could be a waste of time to teach children how to use these basic concepts, I would reply that making sure all kids are on the same page and understand basic uses of technology would benefeit everyone, making sure we aren’t producing a generation that has a million different resources at their finger tips and little to no ability to access and use them correctly. The issue is important because many people, especially teachers nowadays assume all students have the ability and access to use technology when not all of the students do. Technology use needs to be incorporated into everyday learning in the classroom so these coming generations have the ability to use what’s provided to them.



2 thoughts on “Natives or Not?

  1. I agree with you because I think that there is always more things that are being done and redone with technology that there will never be someone who knows EVERYTHING about a piece of technology.


  2. I’m really liking your use of the They Say/I Say template, and would encourage you to continue using it in the future, even when not specifically called for in the assignment.

    I wonder how much “exposure” is needed before “wise use” occurs. Most digital natives are adept at certain uses of digital technology- especially social media to keep in touch with friends. However, their lack of digital literacy could impact social or cultural norms. Their lack of specialized digital training could impact future employment opportunities. In that, digital natives need just as much training as digital immigrants.

    That said, the term “digital natives” has slipped a bit as examples of early adopters can be found at all ages (immigrant & natives alike), but Prensky stands by it. Natives are not natives because they can instinctively operate all digital technology effortlessly (they can’t). Digital natives are natives because they have a fundamentally different relationship with technology-as you point out, our job in public education is to provide a baseline of competency for its use.


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