Digital Natives

“Kids are digital natives”

“This generation is just born knowing how to use technology”

“You know, even babies know how to use iPads now-a-days”

Kids seem to inherently know how technology works.  Put a computer or tablet in front of them and they just get it.  Right?

I won’t deny kids can do some amazing things with technology, but as adults we do them a huge disservice by assuming they don’t need any guidance from us. In my classes I have noticed an alarming number of children and teens who can creating amazing worlds in Minecraft look absolutely flabbergasted when you ask them to create a folder and save a file into it.

I have worked with countless technically brilliant teenagers who spend an inordinate amount of time struggling to find the letter they need because they have not learned how to type without looking at the keys. It is painful to watch these students struggle, instead of writing wonderful prose or creating immersive websites, they are stuck trying to achieve things my generation all learned in our first computer course.  We are teaching kids HTML before they even know what a URL is.

Schools need to get back to basics and make sure that all their students have key computer competencies and terminology down pat instead of assuming that they are natural technological geniuses.   The younger generation may be able to teach themselves how to code, but learning how to create a folder on your desktop isn’t very glamorous and something they are likely to overlook. Here are the five computer basics even my most brilliant students have struggled with:

  1. Creating folders
  2. Basics of saving & creating files with logical names
  3. Conducting research online
  4. URLs and when to use them instead of a search engine
  5. Touch typing

Technology teacher or no, we all can do our part to reverse this trend.  Learning opportunities for most these skills come up in even the simplest of courses.  Teaching English?  Show your students how to create a folder and save their Word document into it before asking them to create their outlines.  Have kids doing a research project?  Run them through Mozilla’s Kraken the Code activity so they can discern between fact and fiction.

What about you, have you noticed this trend?  Have any tips on how we can work together to reverse it?  Share it out in the comments.


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