What the Hell is a Digital Native? - Idea Couture

Photo Credit Jay Wennington / CC
Myth: Millennials are digital natives, and that makes them different.

The belief that Millennials’ fluency with technology is a definitional characteristic is both a bit short-sighted and a bit exclusionary. First of all, fluency with technology is spotty. For instance the U.S. still has a lower smart-phone penetration than many other well-off countries (only 75% in late 2014). Additionally, if one takes a view of young people that includes global socio-economic data, it becomes clear that fluency with technology is spotty and excludes people who are poor, or live in countries where technology is not so deeply rooted. It is difficult to say that all millennials are digital natives for these reasons alone. However, because we are now eight years into the rise of the smartphone, many people who are digital adopters (that is, people who are not considered digital natives) have worked their way into the same kind of fluency. The fact that teenagers are running away from Facebook because there are too many old people there–like their grandparents–is demonstration enough. The line between digital native and digital adopter is decreasing where technology is all the rage. This renders the idea that Millennials are more tech savvy than most, a problematic distinction.