The Myth of Digital Natives

A recent edition of the PBS Idea Channel 1 does a nice job of exploring the question Do “Digital Natives” Exist?.

I’ve never liked the digital native/digital immigrant concept.2 As the presenter points out, it presumes that people are born with some innate knowledge of how to work external devices, which makes no more sense than a newborn understanding how to speak a language.

Everyone learns as they grow and develop through life, and kids3 just have more time, opportunity, and motivation to figure out stuff like Facebook and iPads than most adults do.

However, for too many educators, the whole native/immigrant myth actually gets in the way of them learning to make better use of technology in their professional practice (and sometimes offers an easy excuse to skip it altogether).

Anyway, watch the video (the topic only covers the first 5-1/2 minutes of the program) and see what you think.

Better yet, show it to someone who thinks they’re an immigrant.


  1. A series I only recently discovered but which I will have to watch more of.

  2. For those interested, previous rants on the topic are here, here, here, and here.

  3. At least those from comfortable backgrounds who are not worried about where their next meal is coming from.

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