Sunday, March 20, 2016

Literacy. Are today's youth digital natives?

This week’s reading was much different from our previous course work. Boyd’s chapter Literacy was an informative piece on the difference between a digital native and a digital immigrant. Today’s youths are categorized as natives of technology, meaning that they have grown up with technology and it is assumed that all youths have access and are not only knowledgeable but masters of technology. Boyd wrote that “those of u who were not born into the digital world but have, at some later point in our lives, become fascinated by and adopted many or most aspects of the new technology are, and always will be compared to them, digital immigrants” (179).

I believe that Boyd had a validity in his point that “we assume that youth will just absorb all things digital through exposure, we absolve ourselves the responsibility to help teenagers develop necessary skills” (180).  When I started reading this chapter, I too found myself feeling that today’s youth should already have all the technological skills that they need to succeed in schooling as well as their futures. However, many points were made that I hadn’t contemplated before. Knowledge of technology has become an essential part of every day life, so much so that without it, you may miss out on job opportunities (or even the ability to properly fill out an application or resume), college application processes, and many other forms that are now only available online. 

Unfortunately, not every youth has the same access to technology, which makes it nearly impossible for those students to be as successful as those with unlimited technology.  I thought it was an important note that Boyd had when discussing smart phones.  Previous to ready this chapter, I hadn’t thought about how difficult it must be to base your sole technology use on a cell phone, which is the case for many students in lower income brackets.

“Hargittai found that teens’ technological skills are strongly correlated with the quality of their access.  Quality of access is, also unsurprisingly, correlated with the socioeconomic status” (195).  Johnson would probably say that those that have limited access are afraid of technology because it is unfamiliar to them. Which, I found interesting when Boyd discusses Wikipedia. In Boyd’s chapter Literacy, he mentions that students avoid using Wikipedia because they have been told it is not a valid source, instead of utilizing it properly by checking citations.

I found a really interesting video (it’s pretty long and I was not able to watch the entire thing). But I thought, what an awesome connection to Boyd and Delpit! As you all know, I’m not a teacher but I believe that this could be an issue for many teachers.  The New Media Classroom explained how teachers may feel nervous using technology in front of their students because the teachers believe their students know more about technology. Just because we are afraid that the younger generations may know more about technology doesn’t make it okay not to try and use it with them.  

1 comment:

  1. Bethany, great post and infographics! The comment about Wikipedia really resonates with me. The other day, during a class discussion my students asked a question that I didn't have the answer to. It was relatively minute (and I'm now forgetting what it even was). I wanted to validate that their question was important, so I googled the question and clicked on the first (and most relevant) link that Google generated. The wikipedia page popped up on our Smartboard and my students were quick to say, "No Miss, you can't look at Wikipedia, it's not reliable." This struck me as odd--in fact, I use Wikipedia all the time to check basic facts and check that the information is reliable. It was clear that some other teacher told them never to use Wikipedia and they now carry that lesson with them. This strikes me as an example of how students listen to the messages that teachers give and that sometimes teachers make mistakes. Are my students better off without Wikipedia? No. I would argue they are more limited. As teachers, we need to educate all students about the intricacies of media, rather than painting it as black and white (i.e. wikipedia is bad).