Digital native is a term coined by Mark Prensky in 2001 used to describe the generation of people who grew up in the era of ubiquitous technology, including computers and the internet. Digital natives are comfortable with technology and computers at an early age and consider technology to be an integral and necessary part of their lives. Many teenagers and children in the first world today are generally considered to be digital natives as they mainly communicate and learn via computers, SNS and texting.
Understanding Digital Natives
The idea of “digital native” came from an article explaining Prensky's opinion on why today’s teachers are having trouble teaching students. Prensky argued that young people today are speaking a digital language whereas teachers are speaking an old accented language (their accent being their reluctance to adopt new technology). He called for a change in the way children are taught so that they may learn in a “language” they understand. It is worth noting that not all children born today are digital natives. Although cheaper mobile technology is making rapid inroads into developing and emerging nations, children in less affluent areas are less exposed to technology than their counterparts in the G8, for example.
It is important to note that Prensky's original paper was not a scientific one, and that no empirical data exists to support his claims. He has since abandoned his digital native metaphor in favor of digital wisdom.