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Business and Tech Education

Most Digital Natives are Digitally Naïve

Today’s youth have grown up using technology and computers; they look upon technology as a necessary and an integral part of living. In 2001, Mark Prensky invented the term “digital native” to define the generation of people growing up in the digital age. The use of digital electronics for communicating and learning is second nature to digital natives; however, they often have difficulty evaluating digital content, sources, and sites for accuracy and credibility. Integrating technology use in 21st-century classrooms is essential for preparing students to enter a digital world, as employers are seeking employees who are digitally literate.

Digital citizenship

Today’s students spend nearly as much time online as they do offline, which makes digital citizenship important for students to understand. Online safety, especially of personal information, is paramount.

Although most students use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, many of them are still not digitally literate. Tweeting and other social media platforms are easy concepts to grasp, but students must also be able to properly use search engines to gather reliable research materials and know how to recognize legitimate sources online. Research is a large part of student life, and as they discover better ways to gather information, they need more training on how to organize that information. They need to safely and effectively communicate information they receive.

Ethics

Online ethics and respect for others online are critical skills to acquire for today’s connected teens. Online ethics are increasing in importance due to the rising number of cybercrime issues such as software piracy, unauthorized access, hacking, and spamming. According to Internet World Stats – Usage and Population Statistics, there are 4.38 billion internet users in the world. Increased internet usage has drastically increased concerns regarding user privacy.

Thanks to the internet, today’s students are more connected than ever before. Technology breaks down barriers and brings minds together around the world, in ways that were unthinkable 50 years ago. However, worldwide connectivity has its downsides, one of which is online safety. Spam, scams, fraud, and identity theft are serious online issues that all users need to be able to understand and identify. Online safety is knowledge and knowledge is power.

Learning

The internet is a wonderful tool to enhance learning; there is a plethora of information readily available for inquiring minds. Like any communication tool, the internet has its drawbacks when it comes to privacy; the internet is not private, so personal safety and information security are paramount for users. Integrating technology in classrooms serves to reinforce students’ understanding of digital electronics, while honing skills necessary to transition seamlessly to the 21st-century workplace. Using an integrative STEM approach to bring technological literacy to all should be foremost in our thoughts when designing curricula now and in the future. Even though students today have been using technology practically since birth, they will benefit from learning to use it efficiently, responsibly, and ethically through education and practice. 

Nancye L. Hart, Professional Development Coordinator, International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, [email protected]

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