Mar 3, 2015

Video: Kids React to Walkmans (or, There is No Such Thing as a Digital Native)

While browsing YouTube with my children we stumbled upon one of our favorite channels, TheFineBros. As we watched "Kids React to Walkmans," a few things became immediately clear:
  • The 80's were a long time ago.
  • Technology has come a long way.
  • There is no such thing as a digital native.

While the technology of a Walkman is not exactly the same as a tablet or smartphone, there are several similarities:
  • Each has a defined purpose (listen to audio).
  • Content must be added (radio channel or cassette tape, file download).
  • Settings can be customized (volume, audio source).
  • Buttons must be pressed to function (play, stop, radio, etc.).
  • Peripherals are necessary for best use (headphones).
  • Power is a necessity (battery).

The idea of the digital native is based on the notion that our students have grown up with this technology, and therefore have an innate ability to use it well. However the first time anyone, child or adult, is handed a new device, they will have to explore, observe, or read the manual. Just because someone can listen to music, text friends, and find hilarious things on the web does not mean they are a tech wizard. Can they research a topic, gather findings, formulate new understandings, and present their ideas? Can they interact intelligently with people around the globe to share ideas and learn new things? Do they know the difference between an ad, a scam, and a genuine error message? Can they identify and solve operational problems?

The technology our students have grown up with is ever changing, complicated by an influx of new  devices and platforms. Our students are motivated to learn how to use the technology available to them because they want to play the game, join their peers in chats, or complete an assignment on time. Much like adults, they will figure out how to use a tool just enough to get the job done.  Some students, just like some adults, will go the extra mile and learn more. Ultimately it is up to us, educators, to show students how to use technology in ways that support and promote learning.

Still don't believe me? Watch these bright, intelligent, tech savvy children interact with a "new" technology: