Digital Natives…they’re children born after the year 2000, thrust into a culture immersed in computerization, dripping with technification (that’s a technical term, obviously). Having experienced only a life absorbed in the digital revolution, these children – *our* children – possess a unique understanding, a specialized OS if you will, of the world in which they live.
#generation, Net Generation, Millennial Generation and Generation Z may all be fitting terms for the cohort of people considered to be born digital. The level of understanding in digital technology and UX for these children is as looking through a lens – a lens of relativism to the tune of Google Glass.
Born into cultural consumption, the metadata and memory management capabilities of GenZ have a type inference not coded in the minds of their parents. Our children see, hear and comprehend in ways that we, as digital immigrants, have never had the opportunity to experience. The gap between digital natives and digital immigrants can be narrowed with our efforts to speak the language, but with roots in the pre-digital age, immigrants face the struggle of understanding second language practicalities from a foreign standpoint.
One of my favorite demonstrations of information age interaction is the YouTube video of a digital native toddler attempting to swipe a traditional magazine. Clearly, her view of the world around her is consumed by her exposure to digital technology. She even tests her finger against her leg for stylus functionality when it fails to activate touchscreen capabilities on the print page. Her world embraces technology in a way that ‘phone is to wall as computer is to desk’ will be an absolute and incomprehendible reality in which innovation exceed constraints. All this will be made increasingly possible with little brains wired to create just such.
Early exposure to technology may fundamentally alter the ways in which people learn, but the ability to become increasingly tech savvy remains quite attainable. As parents to digital natives, I believe we should jump in feet first, seeking to understand this young culture. Our contribution is invaluable, yet the innate knowledge of our children has potential to spark future modernism in ways we simply can’t imagine…and certainly can’t ignore. Adoption of digital technology and an increased conception of human-computer interaction are a couple of ways digital immigrants can begin to see things through the eyes of a child…a digital native that is.