The Digital Natives Debate

digital nTechnology is very well present in our society today, there is no escaping it, from using your mobile phone to check Facebook to using your laptop to type up a report; technology is EVERYWHERE!

This has led to a new generation known as ‘Digital Natives’. Digital Natives are young people who have grown up with technology, it is said that this generation is extremely different to other generations because of them growing up in a fast-paced technologically advanced world, it is a common understanding in society today that they learn differently, think differently, behave differently and even have their own language because of growing up in a world where there is continuous change and a large exposure to technology. This common understanding is somewhat correct and is seen as a big problem in education. It now seems education must now change from the traditional organised teaching styles to more tech-savvy styles to meet the needs of this new generation known as ‘Digital Natives’ This debate seems to be never ending for years we’ve now talked about the growing gap between the younger generations and the older ones and the issue of technology in education but we seem to be getting nowhere, repeating the same things over and over.

The article “Digital Natives” by Bennett. S ,focuses on research data about how young people use technology, starting with how accessible it actually is, it’s quite surprising that not all young people (school-aged children) have genuine access to technology , that is due to the differences in home access and how parents value technology as an educational or recreational device. The study also highlighted how important the cost of a device was to university students, often opting for the most affordable device. It then continued by asking what kind of activities were accessed, these results showed the variation of what was being accessed according to the age group, gender and socio-economic status (Selwyn 2008). Giving us the conclusion that not all ‘digital natives’ have the same characteristics. A highly important fact that must be taken into account.

Bennett. S then raised the issue of education and technology….

Bennett. S drew the attention to the fact that not all so-called ‘digital-natives’ shared the same characteristics, therefore the issue of technology in education and how education should rapidly change to keep up with the tech-savvy Gen X is flawed. However before you agree or disagree with this he clearly stated that this did not mean that education shouldn’t change at all. Instead we should now use this new information to help us with the technology in education debate. As research shows that there is a diversity of learners experiences with technology, teachers must not assume all students have the correct skills to use technology in an academic setting. Therefore we must properly teach our students how to responsibly and correctly use technology in academic practices.

Bennett. S also talks about how we can further advance the debate over the ‘digital natives’. Bennett talks about how we need to change the tenor of the debate. He mentions that we must not panic over the increase on technology and must remember many of the issues faced with technology such as cyber- bullying or complaining about teachers are not 100% new they have now just become more visible, For example bullying is still regarded as bullying whether it’s done online or face to face, that means many anti-bullying strategies can still be effective or tweaked a little to be able to be used with technology.

As a society I think we’ve put too much attention on the ‘sudden’ technological movement and therefore have labelled technology as well as the inter-connected issues that arise as a scary new phenomenon. In fact technology isn’t scary at all, change is part of the world we live in, Many things have changed since the 20th century it’s just like that, we need to accept the change and learn to live with technology and learn to how to cope and problem solve the issues faced with it, just like we did back in the 20th century when ‘digital natives’ did not exists. We have got to stop debating about technology and start making and accepting the changes; for once lets accept that education needs to change and start using more technology but also start teaching the digital natives how to use it properly and correctly in not just everyday life but in academic practices as well. TECHNOLOGY IS HERE TO STAY!


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