Difficulties in Understanding the ‘Digital Native’

Though much of the information that Nishant Shah and Sunil Abraham use to present a structured and detailed understanding of the ‘Digital Native’, there is a lack of distinction within the term ‘Digital Native’ which could serve as a helpful way of teasing out the different types and forms of interaction that take place between the ‘Digital Native’ and the digital. In Shah and Abraham’s analysis they seem to overlook the fallacies inherent in generalizing. Here, Shah and Abraham impregnate their study with binary language, a historically patriarchal and systematized means of structuring thought, which ultimately detracts from their unbiased and objective understanding of the ‘Digital Native’. I think there should be more of an internal-analysis of the disparate geo-political factors that possibly influence socio-cultural modes of interaction for the ‘Digital Native’. Thus a more specific deconstruction of the term and idea ‘Digital Native’ is required in order to further progress Shah and Abraham’s analysis.

On the most simple and basic level of analytical understanding, one can explore the differentiating nature of digital interactions within the broader ‘Digital Native’ group through internal distinctions made using geo-political affiliations. This spatially oriented way of understanding differences within the ‘Digital Native’ population can point to greater distinctions in the digital population relating to socio-cultural and political uses of technology, further specifying interactions with the internet. This sort of analysis could structure and sort through the different political uses of the Internet and their correlation to actual physical intervention or action. This more detailed analysis could grasp at ideas concerning the passivity of human interaction with or through the digital.

Another variable that is not given enough attention is age. The foundation of the language for Shah and Abraham’s study is based in binaries predicated on age. However Shah and Abraham’s intentional decision to ignore and not address the more ambiguous questions of age within the ‘Digital Native’ population is what makes their study more simplified and basic. Age has never been more crucial than it is today. Using age as a determinant of socio-cultural uses of the digital would prove incredibly helpful in better understanding the ways in which human growth processes relate to digital interaction and digital ideology.


2 thoughts on “Difficulties in Understanding the ‘Digital Native’

  1. caropark

    Generalizing an entire generation of individuals under a single category always seems to lead to controversy and slander and yet we find it imperative to constructing our society. I’m glad you pointed out the fallacies in their arguments.

  2. mbmistler

    I agree that what Shah and Abraham present in their work is a little hard to grasp at times–especially their initial definition of “Digital Native”: “children born after 1980; youths significantly affected by the rise of Internet technologies; an emerging global population growing up with digital technologies central to everyday functioning. ” First of all, not all children have even been exposed to technology, although this is backed up with the second statement – “youths significantly affected”; this is also very general. How is significant defined? What if there are other factors that we are not looking at? Are youth facing different problems as the human race continues to grow along the great chain of being?

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