The digital natives thing doesn’t hold much water for me. Kids may not have the fear of technology that their elders do, but their use of technology is often just superficial – they can Facebook like a pro, but when given a practical task to do they struggle when they can’t find a tutorial for that exact task on Youtube.
I don’t think it was ever really intended to be treated as a theory, but it’s the kind of thing that you can look at and instantly think of an example where a kid helped grandma with her iPad, and see some truth in it. Kind of like learning styles – it’s one of those ideas that makes just enough sense not to question it.
But there are some serious problems with the idea: for starters, saying, “everyone born after this date is a digital native, everyone born before it is a digital immigrant” is an epic oversimplification. People don’t work in a binary fashion like that. He takes no account of socioeconomic status, educational background or many other issues of context that are vital when trying to categorise people in applying a theory.
Secondly, an awful lot of the evidence presented in support of the idea was anecdotal or involved asking students for their own opinions. Anyone who’s ever taught anything knows that students aren’t always the best-equipped to decide the best method to take to learn a new skill or complete a task.
So in short, I think it’s a crock… but don’t take my word for it! 🙂