Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs
Today’s teens are “digital natives.”
Ugh. I get so tired of this “digital native” meme. I’m also tired of shitty, misleading infographics that are essentially emotional arguments dressed up to look like an exercise in social science.
First off, 34 year-olds aren’t teenagers.
Second, SOME millennial are “digital natives” — maybe even most. But quite a few aren’t. See, e.g., Selwyn 2009. For some interesting but not necessarily well-sourced discussion, see http://www.netgenskeptic.com/.
Third, “Friends” needs to be put in scare quotes.
Fourth, those privacy numbers aren’t actually all that startling. They certainly don’t support a broad, strong assertion like “They’re used to sharing information about themselves online.” If they were at or around 50% of people who had posted risque photos or had their profiles set public, I might think there’s something going on.
The only data that really supports the “digital native” meme here, at least in my estimation, are the 63% texting figure and the 100+ texts a day figure for 12-24 year-olds; that’s pretty interesting and suggests a stark, real difference. Still, please see my second point, supra. 63% is barely enough of a majority to get something passed in the Senate. Also, cf. my first point — 20-24 year-olds aren’t teenagers.
(The fact that I think that, though — that people in their twenties are significantly different than people in their late teens — may be more indicative of a generational gap than anything on this infographic.)
I agree with Michael Lopez. Infographics aren’t evidence. Selecting viewpoints you like, and placing them into a poster, doesn’t make those viewpoints authoritative.
I don’t buy that “teens who text more may have better reading, writing and spelling skills.” I also don’t see a source. “May” is a weak word, isn’t it?
Digital Aborigines (or maybe Feral Digiterati) might be a better term.
My experience with undergraduates suggests they are competent with SMS, email, Google, WikiPedia, iTunes, and a smattering of PowerPoint; their computational skills don’t extend far beyond cut-and-paste and downloading music or porn.
If I have to listen to one more overpaid suit telling me how computer savvy the Millennials are, I’m just gonna barf.
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