You may have heard about the technical digital divide, where those in rural areas do not have access to the same high speed broadband internet as their neighbors in larger cities. But there is another divide occurring as well, the second being between groups of people. And this divide is serving to affect the workplace, families and educational institutions just as much as the lack of internet services.
The Battle Between Natives And Immigrants
To understand this interesting digital divide, we must first understand what characterizes the two types of digital users that are being discussed.
The digital native can be characterized by having grown up with technology since birth. A digital native has no recollection of what it’s like to use a wall-mounted telephone. They have also never known life without some kind of keyboard, and understand the language of the internet, right down to the LOLs and OMGs.
As expected, the digital immigrant understands and has experienced life before the mainstream computer and internet. In fact, they’ve become quite fluent in the language of the digital world, and have acquired many skills from it, such as searching the internet, using e-mail and social networks, and wielding a smart phone like a pro.
As technically-savvy as digital immigrants most often are, the unfortunate truth is that they will forever be different from their digital native counterparts.
Communication Issues Between Digital Natives and Immigrants
In the home is where many say the digital divide is felt most strongly. Many misunderstandings about how digital natives communicate causes their immigrant parents to want to pull their hair out. Because digital natives tend to learn intuitively and are able to multitask, they are often mislabelled by parents as being ‘internet addicts’ when they are getting their homework done simultaneously with downloading music files, Tweeting and chatting on Facebook.
At work, the digital divide can manifest itself as frustration with coworkers. A digital native may become increasingly annoyed by an immigrant co-worker who refuses to answer their text messages, preferring face-to-face conversation instead. The divide can also cause much frustration between an older immigrant manager and their team of young charges, as well as within the manager’s mind itself. Many immigrant managers can feel out-of-touch with their teams, for the simple reason that each type of native does things differently.
And even in schools, where technology has become a mainstay of the classroom, the digital divide can still be apparent, as natives view learning as a participatory animal, where several sources are used to arrive at a conclusion. This may not sit well with the digital immigrant who still believes that the best sources for information can be found at the local library on the shelves.
Will Natives And Immigrants Ever Get Along?
As technology becomes something that’s increasingly ingrained in our daily lives, it only stands to reason that the digital native and the digital immigrant can learn how to accept their differences and coexist. And if some predictions are any indication, we don’t have much longer.
One prediction is that, by the year 2020, everyone will be accessing information and news from any location on the globe at any time they wish. This real-time connection, called AORTA (Always On RealTime Access), will bring to fruition the stuff told about in science fiction stories.
Of course, in order to make the digital future something that both natives and immigrants can live with, the proper protections must be put in place to ensure that everyone, whether digital or native, is accessing information in a way that is not only safe for them, but respects their privacy as well.