The term digital native describes a person who has grown up in the digital age, rather than having acquired familiarity with digital systems as an adult, as a digital immigrant. Both terms were used as early as 1996 as part of the Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. They are often used to describe the digital gap in terms of the ability of technological use among people born from 1980 onward and those born before.
Digital native and digital immigrant were popularized by education consultant Marc Prensky in his 2001 article entitled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, in which he relates the contemporary decline in American education to educators' failure to understand the needs of modern students. His article posited that "the arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decade of the 20th century" had changed the way students think and process information, making it difficult for them to excel academically using the outdated teaching methods of the day. In other words, children raised in a digital, media-saturated world, require a media-rich learning environment to hold their attention, and Prensky dubbed these children "digital natives".