My mother is tech-savvy. Photograph by Karen Malbon
I remember reading the Prensky (2001) article many years ago and wondering where I fit in. I wasn’t a digital native, born eight years earlier but didn’t feel like a digital immigrant. I am Generation X and part of the MTV generation. I have always immersed myself in technology and am not fearful of it. I have also observed students who were considered digital natives struggle with the use of technology or simply preferred other pursuits. In my opinion, the digital native and digital immigrant terminology is a broad generalisation.
Downes (2012, p. 7) said
When faced with questions, students today find answers within seconds using Google or other search engines. When they want to acquire a new skill, they watch a YouTube video to learn it. When requiring further consultation, they tap into an electronic forum or social network that provides them access to myriad others who share their interests.
My mother is 65 years old, has never worked with computers and she does all the above. Two years ago my mother got an iPad. My sisters and I have helped her along the way and she still refers to us as the “help desk” but now she is a confident user of a variety of apps, Facebook and YouTube. On Facebook she shares photos with her family and friends, swaps knitting and crochet patterns, gives advice and tells stories with caravan and travel groups from all over the world and watches videos on YouTube to learn new craft skills. My mother proudly tells me that she knows more than her friends do about Facebook.
I prefer Stoerger’s (2009) melting pot description than Prensky’s digital native and digital immigrant description.
The melting pot also symbolizes the bridge between the two cultures that the digital native–digital immigrant dichotomy creates. Through assimilation, individuals who lack the skills could be transformed into members of the tech–savvy culture and become incorporated into a
Stoerger’s description takes into account individual differences and the wide range of skills people of all ages possess or are prepared to develop. I plan on using the term tech-savvy from now on to describe my mother.