We often think of millennials as the “media crazy” generation. However, in today’s digital society, individuals of all ages are deeply connected through the world wide web. Marc Prensky, a leading expert on the connection between learning and technology, coined the terms “digital native” and “digital immigrants” in describing one’s relationship to technology according to when they were born.
A digital native is considered a “native speaker” of the digital language, born after 1980, and have grown up in the age of digital technology. A digital immigrant, born before 1980, is an individual who has adopted many aspects of new technology, despite the fact that they were not born into it.
So, besides year of birth, what are some other differences between digital natives and digital immigrants?
1. A digital immigrant will call you to ask if you received their email, a digital native will check to see if you opened their snapchat.
While both populations are immersed within the technological world, the digital native has fully adapted to the new ways of the world wide web. While a digital immigrant may be active on social networks such as Instagram or Snapchat, a digital native will know how to utilize beyond their intended “photo sharing” capabilities.
2. A digital native streams everything online, a digital immigrant owns the boxed DVD set.
It wasn’t long ago that TV fans would rejoice over ownership of every single episode of their favorite show. Want to watch Season 7 Episode 4 of Friends? Pop in disc number 2! Those born right within the digital cusp can just ask Alexa to play their favorite episode, and may pick up a DVD confused asking, “what’s this thing?”
3. A digital immigrant has the book, a digital native has a kindle.
There’s just something about ink on paper that can never truly go out of style. Digital natives have a deep appreciation for hard copies, where digital immigrants are likely to write a note on their phone rather than with a pen and notepad.
4. A digital immigrant reconnected with their friends on Facebook, a digital native never lost touch
Since digital natives grew up within the social media boom, they have been adding to their online network of connections since they were young. There is quite a span of time since digital immigrant’s old neighborhood days and the first Facebook friend request. This makes digital immigrants more appreciative of the use of this tool as a way to reconnect with old friends.
5. A digital native is reading this on their phone, a digital immigrant is on their laptop
We have quickly transformed into an on-the-go society. Digital natives are professional multi-taskers, checking their email, listening to a podcast, and RSVPing all while brushing their teeth. A digital immigrant is likely to take things one step at a time, finishing reading this blog post before moving on to their next activity.