College & Workforce Readiness

Teacher: Beware the ‘Digital Native’ Stereotype

By Liana Loewus — December 04, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Technology teacher Mary Beth Hertz writes on Edutopia that teachers need to beware of the “dangerous” stereotype that all students these days are “digital natives.” She says that just because students know how to use technology doesn’t mean they understand how to “create, read critically, use online content responsibly,” and be respectful of others in the digital world. And those skills are necessary to be truly digitally savvy, she contends.

Hertz cites a study in which the nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child left pre-loaded tablets with illiterate children in remote Ethiopian villages. The children quickly figured out how to use the applications and began teaching themselves to read. Within a few months they’d overridden the software meant to freeze the desktop settings, and customized their devices. (Pretty unbelievable. Check out the Mashable article on it.) But Hertz says this proves her point that being able to use technology does not make you proficient:

Sure, we can place a tablet in the hands of children who have never seen a package label or a sign, and they will learn on their own. But what happens when and if those children become connected to the larger, global online community? It is not guaranteed that they will be ready to navigate etiquette and intellectual property rights on their own.

Instead, Hertz writes, we should call students “digital citizens,” which implies a more complicated relationship with technology—not innate proficiency.

Hertz is not the first to argue that teachers cannot assume students know how to properly navigate the digital world. Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters said in Scientific American that students struggle with basic Internet searches, and a majority of teachers in a recent Pew Research Center survey said students need more training in finding credible information online.

So perhaps Hertz’ claim boils down to semantics. In fact, I’ve always thought of “digital natives” simply as those who’ve only known a world in which electronic devices are the primary means of accessing information. (While I know it’s a bit hyperbolic, the term brings to mind this video.)

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion What Will It Take to Get High School Students Back on Track?
Three proven strategies can support high school graduation and postsecondary success—during and after the pandemic.
Robert Balfanz
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of students making choices based on guidance.
Viktoria Kurpas/iStock
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion An Economist Explains How to Make College Pay
Rick Hess speaks with Beth Akers about practical advice regarding how to choose a college, what to study, and how to pay for it.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says College Enrollment Dip Hits Students of Color the Hardest
The pandemic led to a precipitous decline in enrollment for two-year schools, while four-year colleges and universities held steady.
3 min read
Conceptual image of blocks moving forward, and one moving backward.
Marchmeena29/iStock/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor How We Can Improve College-Completion Rates
Early- and middle-college high schools have the potential to improve college completion rates, says this letter to the editor.
1 min read