I hear the term ‘digital native‘ quite a lot. The idea is that it refers to a generation that have grown up with digital technology and are perfectly at home with using it. This is of course in contrast to the idea that they understand it. Its a tool – it is used as a means to an end.
There is no more understanding of how digital technology works in the average digital native than there is detailed knowledge of the insides of a car’s engine for me. My father’s generation grew up with servicing cars themselves, but for me – well, that is what the garage is for. I just use it to get me from A to B.
And so it is the same with a lot of today’s digital youth. Computer goes wrong? Find the chap who’ll fix it. Internet down … “Daaad …”
In fact a Royal Society article from last year discusses how current ICT teaching in schools appears to be damaging enthusiasm for understanding computers. Its obvious to any who care to look that long gone are the days of computers coming with programming manuals (although of course, arguably mindstorms might be more interesting …)
Well, I got a taste of native digital behaviour first hand today. 6 year old playing games on the computer announces ‘I got some music on. I typed in ‘give me what I want’ to Google and its playing it’ … sure enough, ‘Kids in glass houses‘ track on YouTube is the top link in the Google search results, so its playing in the background whilst she plays games.
Natively digital? Oh yes.