The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: What is a digital native?

Monday, September 12, 2011

What is a digital native?

Today's young generation is the first to have digital media at their fingertips.  Their teachers and parents likely joined the digital age in elementary school.  Their grandparents or great grandparents probably didn't even have a TV until elementary school.  Children today are "digital natives" - they don't know a world without technological devices.

How does this make them different from previous generations?  First, they find fact-gathering easier and probably more fun.  My daughter assigned a research project to her students.  She said they would love it because they would get to use the laptop cart.  Kids loving research? Say what?  In my 7th grade class oh-so-many years ago, the teacher would have extracted a chorus of groans and complaints from this announcement.  Now, they eagerly look forward to the discovery process because a search engine has facilitated the process.

Neela Sakaria, Senior Vice President of Latitude explains that the research is “focused on giving children a real voice in the broader, often very adult, discussion of future technologies and real-world problem solving. We believe that kids are architects of the future – they’re creative, have an intuitive relationship with technology, and have proven that they think in extraordinarily sophisticated ways about how tech can enhance their learning, play, and interactions with the people and things around them.”

I believe that this new digital revolution has brought a generation of very creative children to the future.  Encouraged by their teachers to develop technological solutions to non-technological problems, they see things differently than their predecessors.  For example, when asked what google can do to facilitate research, this was one young problem-solver's reply:

What fun!  What potential!  I love the thought process that developed this concept and I can't wait for google to figure out how to implement it.  I wish I could be around in 50 years to see what the future holds for these children and thier grandchildren!

Happy teaching!

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