Why it's wrong & how educators and parents can fix it.
In a culture saturated with buzzwords and catchy phrases, the term "Digital Natives" has emerged as a set of adjectives to describe everyone from newborns to millennials.
The phrase first emerged in 2001 when coined by Marc Prensky in an article titled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. The article asserts that students today are all "native speakers" of the digital language of computers.
This is a clever play on words. It is also complete fiction. Seriously, ask any teacher in the trenches who's taking the time to integrate educational technology. They'll tell you time after time how surprised they are to discover how little kids actually know about online productivity and even basic functionality.
By in large, today's students are native swipers, gamers, and social media darlings. End of list. Rest assured this is not a knock on our students. They can no sooner help who they are than water can help being wet. But the fact remains, the notion of kids as digital natives is a myth.
Want more proof? Consider this:
Educators: Cultivate digital skills within the confines of your content areas. Instead of "computer time", allow kids to organically grow 21st century competencies in their pursuit of new knowledge and skills. Gone are the moments when kids should be taught things like google slides, sheets, and forms in isolation. Be the teacher who allows students to learn content and computing simultaneously. You'll find the result to be not only more gratifying, but also more purposeful. Spoon feeding tech competency is the slowest possible way we can build tech skills. Push kids to problem solve, persevere, help one another, and develop the mindset and grit they'll need for the tools that have yet to be invented.
Parents: Don't let tech put distance between you and your children. Allow it to draw you closer together. Let it be the thing that allows you to learn in tandem while pursuing curiosities and creating new things...together. When your son or daughter asks how much the earth weighs or why the sky is blue, look it up. Together! Teach your children how to search the Internet safely. Teach them how to refine their search when what they're looking for doesn't immediately make itself known. Many will be baffled to learn there is information beyond the first page of Google.
Here's a fact. We are all digital immigrants. We are all immigrants in the sense that each of us has and will be required time after time to explore and master technologies that are unfamiliar. Technology doesn't divide us according to immigrants and natives. It unites us under the same banner.