Digital Natives

Over the last few classes, Dr. Pound has called all of us students digital natives.  My understanding of the term is that a digital native is someone who has grown up with all of the new media; they are contrasted with the digital immigrants who grew up before new media and had to adapt to them.  I feel like I live in a unique position, which is somewhere between the two: I can use the new technologies like a digital native, but I didn’t really grow up with them.  We had a computer when I was growing up but it wasn’t connected to the internet until part way through elementary school.  Unlike people born within the last say 10-15 years, who have really grown up with the internet in their household, I did not.

With this in mind, I decided to look into just what qualifies someone to be a digital native.  Wikipedia says digital natives are people “for whom digital technologies already existed when they were born, and hence [have] grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3s.”  Digital natives are contrasted with digital immigrants, or people “who grew up without digital technology and adopted it later.”  Based off of these general definitions, I would say I am more of a digital immigrant.  The internet, mobile phones and MP3s were not things that I grew up with, especially not the latter two (in point of fact, I got my first cell phone only a few years ago and it is not a cyborg part of me.  Even today I left it at home and didn’t care).

But Wikipedia continues, saying that “In the widest sense, this [term, ie digital native] can refer to people born from the late 1970s and beyond, as the Digital Age did begin at this time, but generally, the term focuses on those who grew up with 21st Century technology.”  With this caveat added, I most definitely am a digital native; while I did not grow up with the 21st Century tehnologies (such as MP3s and cell phones), I did grow up within the Digital Age.  This might also explain why I was able to adapt to the new medias so easily: growing up with rapidly changing technologies means you either adapt or get left behind.  And I have seen a lot of change!  When I was younger, we had both a VHS and a Beta machine.  I’ve played video games on most of the systems from the Atari all the way up to the Xbox 360 and Wii.  Even with regards to diabetes care, I have seen some amazing advances.  I went from insulin injections with syringes, to using an insulin pump.  My first blood glucose meter, a One Touch 2 took a ton of blood and took forever to give you results (if you’re interested, here’s a One Touch Basic, which was my second meter.  They were similar in size and took the same test strips, but I think the Basic had a larger memory for test results).  I am now using a One Touch Ultra, which is way smaller, takes way less blood, and gives you results in 5 seconds, which is fantastic compared to the Basic which took 45 seconds to give you your result. 

A One Touch Profile (approximately the same size as the One Touch 2 and Basic) next to a One Touch Ultra 2. I don't have any strips left for the Profile, so I put the check strip into the picture for the size comparison.

Realistically, it doesn’t really matter whether I am a true digital native or not.  I can use all of the new media and I can learn how to use all of the new devices that come out.  And after holding my Profile meter in my hand again, I am extremely greatful to be living in the Digital Age!

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3 Comments

Filed under School

3 responses to “Digital Natives

  1. I am a digital immigrant too! I didn’t see a computer until elementary school, and it was the really big, square ones with the black screen and we learned how to draw a lime green turtle or something. I think it’s a bit too soon to be calling our class digital natives.

  2. skosoris

    lol, was it a Commodore 64? I remember those from Elementary school. That was definitely the first computer we got to use in school!

  3. sarah

    I totally agree..my first cell phone (which my mom bought so she felt safe that I was walking home alone) was a huge black brick!

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