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  1. #1
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Default Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants

    There are people who grew up in with the Internet, videogames, instant messaging, phones in their pockets, downloaded music and a library on their laptops. They are "digital natives." They've been networked most or all of their lives. There are people who grew up before this. They didn't have the Internet or cell phones or social networking, etc. They're quite comfortable with technology but they didn't grow with it. They are "digital immigrants." There are also people who grew up somewhere in-between.

    How important do you see the differences being between people who grew up in these different eras? How does it impact how people think, learn, work and play? Are there barriers to understanding each other?

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  2. #2
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    I consider myself mostly inbetween. The fact that I still wear a classic analog wrist watch* probably gives me away as slightly more immigrant though.

    I was born in 1980. We didn't have a computer at home until the late 90s. My younger siblings were into video games but I never liked them. I got my first e-mail account in 1999, my first cell phone in 2000, opened my facebook account in 2007 and also own a google+ and a twitter account but use neither. And then there is also a professional networking site account that I don't really use either. I got a smartphone in 2010 which is a lifesaver because I need to be able to read my e-mail 24/7 and it is great to be able to look up information anytime anywhere. I recently donated to Wikipedia because I use that site several times a day and value both their work and the concept behind it.

    The honest truth?
    Those older than that seem a bit clueless about the cultural changes and change in values taking place that I am at least aware of while not always completely feeling part of them. They are often overly suspicious of the new and unaware of the opportunities that come with them.
    Those younger seem both escapist and removed from reality in how important trashy virtual fantasy worlds are to them and shallow and materialist spoiled brats in how they take owning that technology at such a young age for granted.

    Damn kids, get off my lawn!




    Apparently a 30+ year old thing from what I have heard. I'm 31.
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  3. #3
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    The first thing that comes to mind is that all of the social stigmas against "computer users" from back in the day are just completely laughable today.

    Some of my colleagues have 20+ years of experience on me and recall the stacks of punch cards that they had to prepare and organize appropriately, then run on the mainframe at night, so on and so forth. Things sucked back then, comparatively. Then again, the programs that they were expected to write were nowhere near the functionality of the programs that I'm expected to write today, because I've got better tools at my disposal and can build more upon the 'shoulders of giants' than they could.

    Ah, well; standards change. Kids today will 'expect' smartphones and constant connectivity to information just as I 'expected' air conditioning.

  4. #4
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    I was born in the early 80s, so I grew up along side the changes and developments in technology. We had a computer around 1991 and got a new one every few years but they were always a little behind the times. I didn't get the internet at home until I was 17-18, but used it at school and at friend houses years before that. Mobile phones didn't really become widespread (in terms of many people owning one) until I was 17.

    For me it the experience was different to 100% digital natives. We had a gradual increase in the capacity of technology so didn't start directly with complex and reliable systems*. We had no one really to teach us how to use these them beyond the bare basics (as our parents and teachers were totally clueless) so we had to work it out for ourselves. I also remember how exciting all this stuff was - like the novelty of getting a colour computer and video games with decent graphics. Now there is such an expectation among Gen Z that everyone have a laptop and smart phone with constant access. I don't get the obsession to socialise through technology with the people you know - to be instant messaging and texting everyone all the time. To me the internet's information capacity and it's providing a setting like-minded people to meet, is more significant. I also feel old now that some schools are asking their students to by Ipads or tablets as a part of their stationary supplies.

    But I also feel quite disconnected from 100% digital immigrants and their one finger typing and complete obliviousness in how to change their phone settings. I have difficulty understanding their confusion, as I find it all intuitive. Just 30 minutes ago I was helping my mum search for something online. She was getting frustrated and irritated that the exact information she wanted wasn't coming up, and yet she had only used the broadest keywords. My parents have got a lot better with technology but I don't ever think they'll really get a grasp on the internet and computers (or how to change their phone settings for that matter).

    *I still remember my class's ink jet printer (so fancy!) from 1992. You had to pull the paper through or it would completely chew it up, but if you pulled too hard it blurred all the words. Needless to say printing was a stressful business
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

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  5. #5
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    I was born in 1991 which puts me pretty much in between both GEN Y and GEN Z.


    One of the key distinguishments between the two, according to wikipedia, is:
    "A marked difference between Generation Y and Generation Z is that members of the former remember life before the takeoff of mass technology, while the latter have been born completely within it."
    Which is imo a huge difference. Coming from someone who has the advantage of being practically born within both realities / existences, I can understand the huge shifting reality view given based on those who were born prior and after mass technology. OFC, I only have a few memories of prior (particularly when I was young) to everything being interconnected. I do remember however, that life had a much different perspective because technology had such a lesser role. In all terms of sociability, lifestyle, etc...

    IE, kids in my neighborhood would hang out at nights playing games like tag for example. You don't really see that with the younger generation as I imagine they're busy doing active unsocial (physically) activities such as browsing the web, or hanging out on facebook...or in some form connected to technology. Where as that wasn't an option as a kid, other than the limited TV , which is inherently unsocial (physically and intangibly), so the only other option to interact with others was to actually go out and engage. OFC I lived the majority of my life hooked in to this system and I could definitely perceive the transition. Going on, I can only imagine then how kids who were born into it would perceive things. In my opinion, those born into the interconnected environment would believe anything against progress for this mass technology life-style would be deemed as counter - intuitive or primitive. Therefore, the more hooked in with the more fancy the gadgets, the better. While I agree mostly, there was however a quality to life prior to this matrix that had a more genuine, real feeling to it. I kind of miss it and I'm glad to have not been born without this insight.


    /random ne tangent

  6. #6
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    I was born in 1986 but I had my first computer at 6 and high-speed internet connection at 11 (I know, lucky), so I kinda feel "digital native". I see complete "digital immigrants" as kinda retarded, unless they make an effort to learn (many do, successfully so).
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

  7. #7
    Freaking Ratchet Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    I'm somewhere in-between, but closer to a digital native.

    Cordless Phones/blocky cell-phones, computers, Nintendo/Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis/Gameboy (home gaming,) pagers, and etc, were readily apparent while growing up. But I've also seen things like typewriters, film cameras, arcades (they are still alive,) VHS/Cassette, and those corded-phones still in use while still a kid.

    My family owned those blocky CRT monitor when I was in elementary school, while I didn't really touch the computers much (except playing some video games,) I did watch my brother go on them often. I can still remember 56k connection and my brother always using MS-Dos to get to the programs. They grew up having to always go into long lines at the library to do research and type their essays on a typewriter. Computers did exist in my elementary school, but compared to now....

    So, I grew up in the transition.

    The difference is that I remember a time where digital technology wasn't so.... "there." But I'm glad I didn't need to wait in line to do an essay.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Owlesque's Avatar
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    I was born in 1989, so somewhere in between. I grew up with a lot of emergent technology mostly in the form of educational material, but much of my spare time was spent outside playing with my neighbours or (more often) off catching snakes/frogs and being out in nature on my own with some supervision. Now, I probably couldn't live without my laptop and iPod, but nor could I live without access to a nice wooded area or waterfront and my binoculars...

  9. #9

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    This thread has been such a lulz! At 40yo, I realize that I must seem ancient to many of you. I'm equally aware that I may seem out of touch, inflexible, and ignorant but from my pov many people under the age of 35 seem rash, shallow, and belligerent. I think that difference has more to do with the simple gap in age and experience than our respective use and adoption of technology.

    I am 100% digital immigrant. I'm not exactly on the bleeding edge of technology but neither am I incompetent. The first video game I ever played was Pong on an Atari system. I didn't get the allure then, and I still don't care for video games. I grew up with a single rotary phone. I think I was nearly 30 when I got my first personal cell phone. I've been on the internet with personal and business email addresses for about 15 years. Although I have a couple of social media accounts, I don't use them often. Again, I fail to see the value.

    The differences between 'immigrants' and 'natives' is far more individualistic than assumed here. My 65 yo mother texts me (constantly) while I can barely get my 15 yo daughter to keep her cell phone turned on. My mother is on FB nearly every day but my daughter doesn't even have an account. Said daughter plays WoW with the grandfather of one of her classmates and her google-fu is legendary so she's not a technophobe. But, like me, she believes the technology, which she has had access to all her life, is a tool and not an end unto itself. My mother, on the other hand, is enamored of all things shiny, new, and with a touchscreen.

    The major advantage, that I can see, between an immigrant and a native is the difference in worldliness and tolerance. My parents routinely identify people by their otherness. My daughter doesn't even think it necessary to mention that her Spanish teacher dresses in hijab. My parents' use of the English language is quaint and full of colloquialism from the regions of their childhoods. My daughter routinely mixes her English with Spanish and Japanese. She knows nearly as much about Asian cultures as she does American and Western Europe because of her access to that culture through the internet. THIS is the benefit that should be celebrated.

  10. #10
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    I don't really understand what you're talking about, Chancey. It kinda seems like a mixture of prejudice and great suprise at something that is rather obvious for many (i.e. a good degree of multiculturalism). Yes I might be verging on the edgy side, but I really don't enjoy conservativism in its cultural - rather than fiscal - manifestation.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

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