The more I think about it, the more I believe there is a fallacy embedded inside that which is being connoted when we refer to today’s kids as digital natives.
The term presumes that these kids are born with the skills they need to aptly navigate the digital world simply because, well… they were born into a digital age.
But when a kid, for example, doesn’t discern that there is a credibility gap between news which is being reported by Perez Hilton and the BBC I think the assumption that kids today know how to well-navigate the score of tech tools at their disposal flies out the window.
If anything, teachers are more important than ever… not less. After all, we teach about little things such as “veracity in journalism”.
I’d say there is an analogy to be drawn to fire here. Fire can cook your food, warm your house and so on. But used improperly/carelessly/recklessly fire will also burn down your home.
Technology is, as we are seeing, becoming somewhat like that. I mean the explosion of cyber-bullying is a fitting example. Sure, social networking is many, many positive things – yet clearly, it has its dangers as well. And just because a kid is a “digital native” it does not mean that they automatically know how to navigate these dangers. Perhaps, they might even be more at risk as a result of the hubris they demonstrate when not thinking things through (such as the pictures they post of themselves or of one another online, through sexting, and so on) when they leap into the word of using these new tools.
The false connotations inside the term “digital natives” might need a bit more scrutiny. Being able to merely pull the trigger of a gun does not by default mean that one can be said to know how to operate a weapon.