My Kids are Digital Natives to the Core

I wrote this, originally, for www.My719Moms.com. I wanted to share it with all 3 of you who follow me. I balked when Colby pointed to a home telephone, with a cord, and asked what it was. How could he not know what a home phone was? As I tried to explain it to him the lady in the aisle just smiled and said, “Times sure have changed.” You’re telling me!

I absolutely adore books, the feel of the paper, the way they smell, just holding them. I wonder how technology will replace books. Television sets have morphed into frames we hang on our walls. Colby saw an older set, somewhere, and asked what was coming out of the back of it. It was just a normal, older set with a tube. I didn’t feel that old, but now that my children are asking me these kinds of questions I can only imagine what I’ll be telling my grandkids.

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According to the Berkman Center at Harvard, “a ‘Digital Native’ is a person who grew up immersed in digital technologies, for whom a life fully integrated with digital devices is the norm.” I realized that my children fit this description perfectly. We were in Goodwill this week and they saw a home telephone and asked me what it was. I told them many people have phones in their house in addition to a cell phone and many others don’t have cell phones. They didn’t really “get” it and asked why anyone would want a phone that only worked in their home. They both have iPods that they use to email their Dad when he is away. They read on their Kindles and have learning games on their DS and iPod. They video chat with their cousins in Georgia, their Dad overseas and their Grandparents in Texas over the computer.

When it comes to education, chalkboards, textbooks, and encyclopedias are considered archaic. Marc Prensky made a good point, “Digital natives are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.” More and more schools are using iPads and computers to teach lessons. Researchers have found that these kids think differently than previous generations and have more “face-paced” minds.

Check out the info-graph below for more on the idea that education needs to change to adapt to these ‘digital natives.’ Here are some of the highlights:

  • 93% of Americans ages 12-29 are online
  • 75% of teens ages 12-18 have cell phones
  • Students in many language classes Skype with native speakers to improve their grasp of a second language
  • Dictionaries, math tutors, history lessons and much more can be held on one iPod & easily accessed by students
  • The University of Notre Dame replaced textbooks with iPads in one course with great success.
What do you think about technology and education evolving? Do you think our educational system needs to catch up? What do you think cannot be replaced with technology?
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2 thoughts on “My Kids are Digital Natives to the Core

  1. A think a proper childhood cannot be replace by technology. It intrigues me that people are aware that many modern kids think differently from those in previous generations but don’t question if those differences are truly postive or just wishful thinking. How long can digital natives entertain themselves when technology is absent, for example. Is it really an addiction that makes people uneasy when it’s removed?

    • You are correct, kids still need the proponents of childhood. That is why my kids have time limits on their electronic games, we don’t have cable and we limit TV time. However, they are learning, on their own, how to integrate technology into their lives. They record their “battles” with their iPods. They take pictures of their lego creations and share them with anyone who will look.

      You asked, “How long can digital natives entertain themselves when technology is absent?” I think that is why it is important to make sure they read real books, play with toys, have outdoor space to play, just to name a few. Is it really an addiction that makes people uneasy when it’s removed? I think that is a good question for anyone using technology. I admit, I had a hard time when I lost my iPhone. I’d probably go through the 5 stages of grief if something happened to my beloved MacBook Pro. My job is managing a website. My husband spends months away and the only way I am able to interact with him is through the computer. My family lives 1300 miles away and I’m still a part of their lives because they send me pictures, emails, video and keep me in the loop of their lives. It would be hard to live without technology, but we’ve adapted to having it around. I’m pretty positive we could learn to live without it should the internet die tomorrow.

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