Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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NESTA on digital natives and immigrants

February 17th, 2006 by Seb Chan

An interesting short article refuting some of Prensky’s approach from NESTA (UK’s National Endownment For Science Technology and the Arts)

The notions of digital native and digital immigrant may be useful slogans for provoking argument. There have been clear social and cultural shifts that need to be investigated because they are deep and profound. However, the slogan does not stand up to inspection:

    The vast majority of children in advanced economies spend less than 30 minutes a day on computer games. The main demographic for computer games players is in fact 20-35 year-olds.
    The notion of a teenager tied to the phone calling their friends as an illustrative concept pre-dates the mobile phone (see 1960s US sitcoms). Most adults can afford to use voice rather than the cheaper SMS. Also 76% of adults in the UK have mobiles phones – this does not seem to indicate a major generation divide.
    Professional adults actually make more significant use of the different capabilities of ICT than anyone else – think of architects or accountants… or zoologists. Examine sales figures and marketing strategies of any major systems vendor.
    From the US: the highest usage of the internet at home is among 35-44 year-olds (29.2%).

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that testifies that not all teenagers spend lots of time with technology. They do lots of other things instead – riding horses, playing music, skateboarding or whatever.

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