Tag Archives: myth

Week Eight: The Myth of the Digital Native

Nishant Shah and Sunil Abraham’s, Digital Natives with a Cause?, discusses the advent of the term “digital native” to describe “children born after 1980; youths significantly affected by the rise of Internet technologies; [and] an emerging global population growing up with digital technologies central to everyday functioning.” This report also focuses on the limited scope that academic literature has displayed in regards to the digital native identity, which has lead to “no theoretical understanding or serious expostulation of what a Digital Native identity can mean.” The digital native is generalized as ignorant and dumb, with an addiction to the Internet that leads to poor social skills. The Internet also serves as a place for digital natives to be more confessional and allows for a limited notion of privacy, as well as allowing digital natives to become self-centered and self-important. These are a few of the many negatives that have been focused on in regards to the digital native in literature, but are obviously generalizations.

In an article published in The Baffler called “The ‘Digital Native,’ a Profitable Myth,” author Jathan Sadowski claims the terms digital native and digital immigrant, which first appeared in A 2001 article written by the education consultant Marc Prensky, “are prime subjects for inquiry. In brief, they overlook socio-economic differences, which exist within the younger generations, and do so in a way that creates lucrative business opportunities for education gurus.” Shah and Abraham’s report issues a similar criticism and states that “engagement with youth should focus on their development as responsible and active citizens rather than on their digital exploits or technologized interests.” However Sadowski argues “when we take a look at the data and research, however, it becomes clear that the great divide between ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ is a puff of smoke—one that obscures the actual differences that other factors (like socio-economic status, gender, education, and technological immersion) play in digital proficiency.” What is happening in the discussion about digital natives is that “we effectively erase the stark discrepancies between access and privilege, and between experience and preference. By glancing over these social differences, and just boosting new technologies instead, it becomes easy to prioritize gadgets over what actually benefits a diverse contingent of people. And those skewed priorities will be to the detriment of, say, less well off groups who still lack the educational resources necessary to learn basic reading and writing literacy skills.” The digital native moniker erases many individuals, who, while born after 1980, do not, because of differences in education, literacy, etc, conform to the notion of a digital native.