I’ve been reviewing a study entitled, “Life Support: Young People’s Needs in a Digital Age” which looked at the psychological and neurological effects of the Internet on young people. The report, authored by Professor Michael Hulme, provides a new definition for the common term, “digital native.” According to Hulme, “digital natives” are people under the age of 25, who have been surrounded by computers, the Internet, mobile phones, and digital video games since a preschool age.”
One of the biggest obstacles I encounter when talking about digital learners is when leaders think that their characteristics only apply to older kids. While this is true, the Life Support report confirms that digital natives begin their immersion into technology around the age of three!
I think about my own kids. My daughters were one and two years old when I got an iPhone. Now that they are four and five years old, they often use my iPhone. We have always had at least two computers in our house since they were born. They play with digital cameras, safely go online, and even own a pair of headphones for their personal gaming system. I am not exposing my kids to all this technology so I can share a great illustration. My wife and I expose our kids to so much technology because they enjoy it and they are going to need it.
Why is it so hard for leaders to come to grips with the truth that digital natives are born into a technological landscape and are inundated with digital tools and resources from a very early age?