Source: Unsplash (Priscilla Du Preez)
You’ve heard of baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and Generation Y. But have you heard of digital natives? This group is not so much a generation, but is used as a general term to describe individuals born in the digital age.
In 2001, the term digital natives was first used by Mark Prensky. Till today, the term has been used to coin those who grow up in the age of technology, including computers and the Internet. Digital natives start using technology from an early age and virtually use it in their everyday lives. This is opposed to digital immigrants, which is a term for people who were raised before the age of ubiquitous technology.
Digital Natives and Academics
By now, you’ve probably heard somewhere or seen it with your own eyes how technology can hinder a child’s academic journey. Many have harped on how their children spend too much time on their mobile phones or watching television programmes, but there’s a positive side to this as well.
Many schools have already adopted the use of technology to educate, even if it’s something as simple as using Microsoft Powerpoint slides. There are also many educational videos on Youtube that explain topics across different academic levels and even include tutorials for Adobe!
Some universities have also taken a step further by attracting digital natives by using technology. For example, Universidad de Talca once had outdated systems which made important administration matters such as student benefits (e.g. financial aid) troublesome to get. By digitising processes, the time taken from the moment of application to the time they heard back from the government was cut from six months to just one day. With majority of the university’s students requiring governmental aid, this was especially crucial and useful.
Digital Natives and the Workplace
It is impossible to imagine a workplace without modern technology. This goes beyond computers and industrial machinery. There is instead an emphasis on the functions of these machines and what is available on the vast Internet. With digital natives being familiar with technology, they are becoming increasingly sought after in the workplace for various reasons.
Take social media, for example. The rise in the use of platforms such as Facebook and Instagram by people of all ages and celebrities alike – have led to marketers to use these platforms to promote their goods and services. As compared to traditional forms of marketing, social media allows direct communication between companies and their consumers, creating a more direct relationship. As this has proven to be largely successful, knowing how to execute social media marketing is seen as a skill among employees.
Digital natives will also make good employees as they are comfortable with doing their work on the go. Due to popular usage of mobile devices such as phones and laptops, they have the ability to use mobile apps and connect to the cloud. This flexibility in being able to work at any time, place, and on any device makes hiring a digital native especially attractive.
With digital natives taking over the workplace and educational institutions, what do you think the future will be like?