Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's Next for Digital Natives?

At only about 4 years of age, I can remember sitting in front of the bulky console television playing my parents' Atari game system. I knew how to change cartridges and turn the thing on. Some games, I even knew how to play (All I could get my triangular spaceship in Asteroids to do was spin recklessly in the center of the screen, but I was a champ at Chopper Command). I don't think my folks ever sat down with me and taught me how to play - I just knew.

Chopper Command - Still the coolest Atari game ever

Almost 25 years later, I am now experiencing this from the other side of the fence. My 2-year-old daughter Sophie smuggled my new iPod Touch from the counter last night. Curious to what she would do, I opened up Doodle Buddy, a free drawing app I had downloaded earlier in the evening. It's simple to use – draw with your fingers and shake to clear the screen. Within minutes, Sophie had is all figured out. I didn't really have to teach her – she just knew.

Although Marc Prensky first coined the term digital native in 2001, I associate it with the work (and recent webinar I attended) of author Don Tapscott. The term is used to broadly define the current youth generation:

A digital native is a person for whom digital technologies already existed when they were born, and hence has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3s.

Sophie certainly fits the definition of a digital native, but I think it's fair to say she doesn't belong to the same population that Tapscott and Prensky were writing about. Sophie's generation has yet to be defined. What will it be – digital native 2.0? The Networked Generation? The Wifi Child?

Regardless of the name, this generation undoubtedly has a lot to look forward to.
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1 Responses:

Wm Chamberlain said...

I don't like the term "digital native" because it presumes that this generation knows more than it does. On the other hand, what generation wants to be defined by another?