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A digital native is a person born in the digital era of the Internet, smartphones and social media. This is typically the generation born around 2000 or after, sometimes called Generation Z. Their world has always had these devices in them. They know no different.
Digital natives are comfortable with technology and have been since close to birth. Videos of young children using an iPad or iPhone have been shown on YouTube. Young children can explain what Facebook or Twitter – two social media networks – are. They later explain those technologies and tools to their parents or grandparents.
The assumption is that digital natives will have different expectations for online content, how it’s presented and how it reaches them. When something doesn’t work they move on. Also, early research shows that this generation might be able to get close to actually multi-tasking and can switch from one task to another quickly without losing knowledge. The early exposure to constant digital stimulation may have had this impact, according to a presentation at the Next Gen Summit 2013 in Eastern Iowa.
But digital natives don’t just use digital channels. They use whatever is most convenient and relevant in a specific moment.
This below is a post I initially published in 2010 on my old blog at Christophsblog.com that discusses the natural mix of media:
My three-year-old daughter appears to be consuming about every medium she can get her hands on.
Here’s a sampling:
- She “reads” The Gazette newspaper. She likes to hold it and pretend to read it. I assume she looks at the pictures.
- She listens to songs on her “record player” which is really a CD player…
- She plays games on my iPad.
- She asks to watch shows on “pbskids.org.”
- She watches TV.
- She does read children’s books … ones in hardcover.
- She asks to listen to Pandora on my smartphone.
- She knows how to operate the computer at the Cedar Rapids Public Library.
- She likes to sit in a “traditional” spot at the library and listen to a book being read to her.
Surely, she’s growing up in one of the first true digital generations, but yet she’s interested in non-digital things, too.
Perhaps, it’s not an either/or call on what to consume.