Digital Native vs. Digital Immigrant? Which Are You?

Are you technophilic or technophobic?

Posted Jul 24, 2012

We all know that we are living in an increasingly technologically driven world. Living here in the heart of Silicon Valley I certainly feel it every day. In fact, I don't think I know a single couple in my neighborhood (other than my wife and I) who don't work in the technology field in some capacity. Our local companies are Facebook, Apple, Google, Yahoo, and so many venture capital firms that I can't keep them straight. But you don't have to live in Silicon Valley to feel that the world is getting more and more technology centered, focused, and driven. We can debate the pros and cons of this reality but we can't deny that the world has changed very quickly in head spinning ways. Two recent comments led me to finally enter the 21st century by getting a smart phone this week kicking and screaming.

This notion of digital native vs. digital immigrant makes a great deal of sense to me. Young people in our society are digital natives. They seem to be very comfortable with everything from iPhones to TV remotes. Digital immigrants (like me) just never feel that comfortable with these technologies. Sure we may learn to adapt by using email, mobile phones (smart ones or dumb ones), Facebook, and so forth but it just doesn’t (and perhaps will never) be very natural for us. It is like learning a second language ... you can communicate but with some struggle.

This has perhaps always been true. I remember when I was in graduate school in the 1980s trying to convince my grandparents that buying a telephone answering machine as well as a clothes dryer would be a good idea. They looked at me like I was talking in another language or that I was from another planet.

So, what about you? Are you a digital native or a digital immigrant and how does it impact your life?