Archives for posts with tag: digital natives

“The job and career you may have today probably doesn’t even exist now,” is something I tell my 2 kids and the college students I teach.

I mean, perhaps the career they’ll have could closely tie to one in today’s current market, but how they work and what they’ll do is something that technology will open the doors to.

For example, the Pinterest phenomenon quickly jumped into the everyday realm of life, relationships, and sharing. A need to save great ideas, likes, interests, and hobbies, mixed with the desire to share them with friends, acquaintances, and the general public human race.

BOOM! Pinterest exploded and found its way into our everyday vocabulary.

Even through my husband of 23 years continues to toss out all sorts of “memorabilia” I found special enough to save due to my sentimental spirit, I recently found something “special” in our attic.


Yes, I found a 1990’s early model of Pinterest, minus the Internet, that is. In my quest to be super mom when our kids were little, I read and gathered all sorts of crafty ideas to try with them. From taffy to flubber, I posted ideas into a magnetic photo album of kid crafts. And when other “mom-friends” came over, we’d share additional ideas. And they’d jealously gaze at my fun collection of recipes, plans, and pictures to use at a moment’s notice on a rainy day to engage and enthrall my kids.


Yes…actual “Pins” from Cupcake Decorations to Christmas Ornaments; Circa 1995

When I saw this relic (and before my sentimental-stuff-throwing husband got a hold of it!), I realized that this was my non-tech Pinterest of the mid-1990’s!

It got me wondering, “What do we regularly do now that we enjoy that one day technology will help us do as if it were on steroids?” Who knows? But I look forward to seeing!

And maybe, just maybe, one of my kids or college students will make their living providing easy access for people to do what they love more easily. And I’m betting their work will be done in ways that today don’t yet exist.

What common “non-tech” thing do we do today, that in 20 years will be a regular, household process, known by a catchy name that technology will make possible? Figure that out, design, develop and deploy it…and you’ll create your career and income stream! Ignite your potential with a bit of creative dreaming!

Dr. Scott remains an active Digital Immigrant, forever learning from the Digital Natives in her life. It’s the next generation that teaches her so much! And it’s that learning that helps her be a successful Professor and Director of Training & Development.

How do you answer the question, “What do you think of if you were asked to find something in an encyclopedia?” (If you thought of a set of big, hardback books labeled by the alphabet, you’re not a Digital Native.)

What question would you consider if you saw a big, often yellow, fat, paperback book labeled by year and produced by a phone company that was delivered to your door?

a)    Where should I keep this because I may need it?

b)   What is this and why would I want it in my house?

(If you answered A, you’re definitely not a Digital Native.)

Do you remember life when your parents did not have cell phones? (If you answered No, you probably ARE a Digital Native.)

And your answer to this next question is one that reveals where you sit on the imaginary boundary of those called Digital Natives or Digital Immigrants: When told to search for or find some information, if one of your first thoughts is to “Google” it, you are at least a Digital Immigrant.

My Digital Native, high-school son had no idea why anyone would want a phone book!

So what’s the difference between Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, or Digital Hermits?

  • Digital Natives know life globally and relationally at a 24X7, continually connected way of being with people and information on our planet.
  • Digital Immigrants expand their awareness of technology integrated into all aspects of life (whether they use it or not); they willingly put their toes in the virtual world to explore what tech can do for them – often embracing new processes and ways of thinking and living that leverage technology.
  • Digital Monks possess an awareness that our culture is shifting to technology as an integrated way of life, for both young and old. However, be it resistance to change, fear of technology, lack of knowledge or skill, or a belief that “doing life and business” without technology worked fine – a conscious decision has been made to stay removed from technological advances in their personal world.

From The Outside Looking In On The Digital Natives

I am not a Digital Native. In spending a little time wit our friend’s two-year old, it was evident she knew how to use an iPhone independently. She could unlock the screen, open the apps, scroll to her Smurfs game, play all on her own, and she knew when to ask her parents for the power cord when it needed “juicy” to keep it working. No, at two, if I were given an iPhone back in the late ‘60’s, I would have traded that thin, plastic block for a pile of Play-Doh or Legos in a second. I’d have had no idea that I held the virtual world in my little hands!

But as our world progresses with technology at the center of business development, communication, and human connectivity at a global level, I remain curious about what exists in technology and how I could use it in my life and work in ways that help me live the life I desire. This definitely qualifies me as a Digital Immigrant. I ask and learn about integrating ever-changing technology into my life from those Digital Natives in my life. I remain amazed at the Digital Immigrants I know (like current college seniors) who hover much closer to the unseen bubble boundary of Digital Natives; they teach me so much.

While it is fascinating to observe a Digital Native child in action with technology, it is also fascinating to visit with a Digital Monk. These are people of all ages who are plenty aware that life is moving at warp speed with “always on” technology connecting us across our earth. Yet for numerous reasons, they opt to “step away,” and not immigrate into life as a Digital Immigrant. Perhaps they like the space and time that “quiet-without-technology” brings, or the creativity that spills forth when they pick up a pen and paper, or the joy in maintaining a handful of deep, “real” relationships where the primary form of communication is face-to-face.  Digital Monks choose not to infuse their lives with technology.

Digital Immigrants and Digital Monks are simply two different perspectives and approaches to dealing with technology in our culture today. And both espouse pieces of wisdom.

Our Digital Natives, however, may find it challenging or perhaps unnecessary to live life any other way than fully connected to life with tech. They will grow up with their heads in “the cloud.”

As adults today who are not Digital Natives, what a cultural phenomenon is developing before us as new communication norms become commonplace. (But since the topic of socially acceptable communication behavior in the population group of Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives is ripe with opinion – like, is it polite or okay to text when you are having a face-to-face small group conversation? – I’ll hold off on going there in this blog post!

Does it matter if you know if you are a Digital Natives, Immigrant, or Monk? No, wherever you fall on the spectrum is fine, but awareness of these differences can be fun to observe and discuss because it impacts our lives everyday. And the more aware of the differences in how folks view the world and technology allows us great opportunities to respect various perspectives.

By Dr. Heidi Scott, Communication and Leadership Specialist and Digital Immigrant

I recently spent a few days with my daughter at her California college campus. Now I think I am pretty technologically savvy and “well connected” in our virtual realm – at least for someone in my age bracket! Yes, I Tweet, blog, and post business updates via a number of platforms. I Skype, use voice recognition software, and text. . . although my kids have informed me I’m ridiculously slow at it!

But I found it truly amazing to see how “connected” my college kid is! Throughout the day I watched her, her teammates, and friends rapidly whip out their smart phones, read/reply to personal messages with a smile or smirk, and slip their phone out of sight again. This happened all day long – while eating, talking, or walking – whether alone or with others.

The “New Normal” Communication Habits of Digital Natives

I teach college students at a university campus – so it’s not like I don’t see these habits of communication in action with this age bracket each week! But I only see my college students for snippets of time.

“Shadowing” my college daughter made me realize how our next generation of digital natives possesses different “rules” of communication and normalcy of life. For example, it is socially fine to instant message or text or email someone while visiting face-to-face with someone else in their generation.

Yes, I can’t help but remind my kids that “older” people – like me! – appreciate a focused, face-to-face conversation, where technology is ignored as a sign of respect and value for our time together. My high school son knows this. . . therefore he has perfected his skill in giving me 100% eye contact while his thumbs text without looking ! (OK, I still have some parenting time left before he leaves to college!)

It was also fascinating to see my daughter’s normal communication habits in the evenings in my hotel. While she “did homework” on her laptop, she also frequently picked up her phone to respond to texts, intermittently clicked on Facebook and smiled as she read updates of her friends and then replied.

Occasionally she flipped over to her email and took care of items there. And while she did all of this, she enjoyed watching TV (a luxury in the hotel compared to her dorm room!), all with one ear open and the other plugged in to her iPod.

This style of “being” is the new normal: Always on and constantly connected.

One afternoon we walked into her dorm room where her roommate was fast asleep in a nap. With a bit too much noise, this girl woke up. And with her eyes barely open, she squinted as she focused her slumbering vision on the screen on her phone that she held. I’m sure much had happened in her virtual world of connectedness during her nap!

Even in my generation of “40-somethings,” my constant connections can distract me and decrease my focus and productivity. So it’s not like only the younger generations are feeling the ADHD results of being always connected!

How do we tap in to our best thinking, make gains from self-reflection, and continue to gain awareness from quiet time – when we lack consistent times of quiet?!?

How you can "Go Dark"

Answer: Disconnection. Strategic and disciplined times of “Going Dark” (yes, think of Jack Bauer on 24 if need be for the concept to make sense!) and turning OFF all technology for a block of time may be the answer. Mindfulness and self-awareness are known to be great tools in continual self and leadership development. This often requires bursts of disconnection.

Action Plan: Go Dark. Even if for brief periods of time – Go Dark. What could happen if you disconnected and followed God’s advice – “Be STILL and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)?