Digital Native – Digital Who??

It was Marc Prensky in 2001 who came up with the name “digital native”.

A digital native is a person who was born during or after the general introduction of digital technology, and through interacting with digital technology from an early age, has a greater understanding of its concepts. Alternatively, this term can describe people born in the latter 1980s or later, as the digital age began at that time; but in most cases the term focuses on people who grew up with 21st century modern technology.
For a couple of years the idea the digital natives theory was very popular and helped putting the impact of digital on the radar of many people and politics.

Guidelines of a ‘digital native’:

  • No digital failure allowed – a digital native just can’t stand the idea of  a technological to not work
    f.i. No internet, No webmail, No network connection … all due to a faillure – Are you up for it?
    Do you allow the network provider to shut down the Interner for 1 day?
  • Good enough beats perfection, enspecially when good enough is cheap, fast and easy.
    f.i. Skype, MP3
  • No absolute control, a digital native wants to be heard (and share his ideas and opinions)
  • Nothing is forever – project driven, instead of job security
  • Want to be heard – full of ideas they want to share (now)

A digital immigrant is an individual who was born before the existence of digital technology and adopted it to some extent later in life.

As Dr. Ofer Zur and Azzia Zur discuss (in 2009), not all digital immigrants are technologically inept, as they fall into a number of categories; Avoiders, Reluctant Adopters and Eager Adopters. Avoiders may only have a minimal amount of technology involved in their lives and households (e.g., a landline phone and a television set). Reluctant Adopters often see ways that technology might be needed in their lives, but they try to avoid it when possible (e.g., letters instead of emails, rotary telephones). Eager Adopters have enthusiasm or a talent for technology that makes them very similar to Digital Natives. Similarly, not all digital natives are comfortable with technology.

What is a “Digital Native”? by Sunil Abraham door SocialterTV

Other popular discourse identifies a digital native as a person who understands the value of digital technology and uses this to seek out opportunities for implementing it with a view to make an impact.

Today we believe that digital savinness can not be defined by age.
Jo Caudron and Dado Van Petegem explain in ‘digital transformation’ that you can define 4 types of people:

  1. Classic Generation, who are happy with the current values and probably won’t adapt to a digital standard soon.
  2. Converted Generation, who are willing to become digital but need help and who use digital as a replacement for analogue value.
  3. Digital Generation, who can’t think about a life without a (digital) connection, and who will adapt to new digital applications and models very quickly.
  4. Rupture Generation, who grew up with digital as the new normal, and expect everything here and now.

The Digital Generation and Rupture generation are most likely to be ‘digital natives’ as descibed above, burt are not tied to the demograpics of a ‘digital native’ (born after 1980).

Digital Demographs


6 comments on “Digital Native – Digital Who??
  1. David De Roeck says:

    if a person is born during or after the general introduction of digital technology but does not learn or use digital technology until needed for school or work , is he still a digital native ?

  2. Alexander De Winter says:

    It certainly matters if you are born in the technologic age but if you are not interested in technologic or any digital media. The only way you will learn it is from school and they only learn the basics. I think the language of digital culture is rising so maybe we need to change the educational system and implant more technology aimed subjects. If we change this we can lift the basic knowledge to the next level and use the modern technology in a better way.

  3. Mª Teresa Poyo says:

    Can we really consider ourselves digital natives? The amazing thing about evolution is that is a non stop process! Technology as we know it today is part of what I am ( I was born with internet so I cannot imagine my life without it as well as whatsapp and so on), but I can picture myself in a few years being the one (digital inmigrant then?) who has to ask her children what is this or that!

  4. Wilma says:

    I was born in latter part of 80’s and I consider myself as a digital native in the way that I understand the good things that come from digital technology but then again, I didn’t really grow up with digital devices. Facebook came to be popular in my country when I was 17-18 years. The fast evolving technology is something that many will find hard to keep up.

  5. Digital native and digital immigrant – The division sounds funny to me but it is very true. I remember myself as a kid teaching my dad how to use the computer – basic stuff that I could do at the age of 7 with my eyes closed, but he could not remember them from the 3rd or 4th time. We grew up along with the technology and to us, change is easier but I think we will also reach our limits. For instance, me and a lot of my friends at my age state that we would not change the big typical comfortable laptop to a small tap that could be broken much easier and working style is different. I have a tab but I barely use it.

  6. […] buy a home or put down roots. I should thrive in the VUCA world! Like most millennials, I’m a digital native. I’m at ease with technology – and isn’t that where all the innovation is? How dare a free […]

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