Digital Native vs. Immigrant

In Recent discussions of technology use, a controversial issue has been whether calling young generations digital natives and everyone else digital immigrants, would be accurate. On the one hand, some argue that because new generations have grown up with technology and don’t know what the world is like without technology, that this has changed how they as humans process, interact and use information. The result is that the new generations communicate drastically different than previous generations. These generations are now being called digital natives because they grew up in technology. This means that everyone who isn’t a “digital Native” is a digital immigrant. From this perspective, everyone who was born before 1980 must always have trouble with technology because they are immigrants. This also means that everyone born after 1980 must be a digital wiz, never have trouble with technology because they have been “re-wired for it”. On the other hand, however, others argue that we can’t define people this way because not everyone born after 1980 knows everything about technology and the internet. To say that would be just as absurd as the say that everyone born before 1980 knows almost nothing about technology. In fact, the people who created most of the technology that is most present in our lives today were born before 1980. It’s also ridicules to say that everyone born after 1980 know their way around technology really well. This view points out that not all children and people born after 1980 have had an equal opportunity to learn about technology. While some kids do grow up surrounded by it in their house and school, other families and schools can’t afford to have iPads or computers for everyone. In sum then, the issue is whether to categorize people as either a digital native or immigrant is a good idea, or if its ridicules to assume that everyone fits into one of the two categories, especially based off of age.

My own view is that we should not have these categories or subjugate people to being one or the other simply because of their age. Everyone learns differently and has different interests. No two people’s experience with technology will be exactly the same. Though I concede that a lot of people born after 1980 have grown up with social media and Google and it has changed our culture but just because someone born after 1980 has a Facebook it doesn’t mean they know how to create computer code. I still maintain that not everyone is alike when it comes to their technical experiences. There are many people born before 1980 that have higher internet presence than people born after 1980.


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