Friday, December 18, 2015

I Spy a Young Digital Native

The students we teach were born into the digital age, surrounded by devices. Thirty-eight percent of toddlers have used a mobile device.  Eighty percent of 0-5 year old use the Internet on a weekly basis. There are even apps for babies that aren't yet six months old.

Yet, so many children under the age of ten do not know digital basics.  As an adult who has become fairly proficient with technology and many things digital I can sometimes forget that young children may not know how to do some fairly common things on devices. What does a young digital native look like?

Young digital natives know how to...
1. turn a device on and off
2. what a home button is
3. open an app
4. close an app
5. find an app
6. navigate between apps (on an iPad this would be double clicking home)
7. change the volume on a device
8. use their finger (or a mouse) to move items on a page or in an app
9. read digital symbols like play, next, home, or the x to close
10. persevere 

Some of the items on this list may seem simple.  For many of our young digital natives they are quite difficult. Some of the items on this list may seem challenging. However, I know for a fact that one-year olds can independently do them. These are critical skills, the foundation for later skills such as web searches, creating and curating content, and being collaborative online. 

Very few young digital natives have these skills.   We cannot assume that our digital natives are digitally proficient when they walk through our doors. We need to take the time to explicitly teach them each of these skills so that they can become digitally proficient.