Monday, October 8, 2007

Digital natives

The first “digital native” I really noticed was my friend’s two-year-old (this was five or six years ago) who would actually bodysurf the net by lying on the keyboard, which was not much shorter than she was, in order to peer at the monitor and reach the mouse. She would then navigate around children’s websites and print things out. I was astounded. Since then, most children I know have become capable of similar feats. My nieces have all used the internet before learning to talk. My five-year-old niece has her own PC, distinguishable from those of her parents by the amount of jam and mashed banana stuck to the keyboard. A friend of mine who has teenage kids told me “Jazmine doesn't really do email it's all msn or bebo. I tried emailing her but whenever she replied to me I needed an interpreter to decipher the cyber speak she uses. The kids use strange symbols and letters when talking on msn and bebo.” This is definitely a new generation gap. I’m in my thirties, but there is a technology gap between me and my elders as well. A few months ago I had a call on my mobile from a woman in her late forties whose number I had saved in my phone. When I greeted her by name, she was shocked and asked me how I knew who was calling, as if I might be psychic. I was shocked in turn that this technology that I have taken for granted for the last ten years could still be unknown to someone living in a tech-savvy country like New Zealand.


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