The Integration of the ‘Digital Native’ into the Virtual Community
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The Integration of the ‘Digital Native’ into the Virtual Community

Some people fight against the need for the digital world, but digital natives rise as the world’s dominant demographic.

Over the last couple of decades there has been an extreme shift in the way children in society are raised. This particular group of people, better known as, Generation Z, now live in a much more technologically-based world (compared to other generations), resulting in their given virtual title, ‘digital natives’.

According to an article by Nielsen Norman Group, a digital native is someone who was raised in a digital, media-saturated world. The term was coined in 2001 by Marc Prensky, an education consultant who argued that ‘digital native’ children have vastly different learning requirements than what he called ‘digital immigrants’. He also claimed that digital natives think and process information fundamentally differently.

This vast change, though necessary for societal advancement, can result in conflict among generations. For example, parents having a hard time understanding their child’s need for a smartphone in order to remain equal to their peers with regards to knowledge and opportunity.

Social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat, while they sometimes cause distractions and are used for the wrong reasons, have completely transformed marketing strategies for businesses. This makes it harder for ‘digital immigrants’ to keep up with today’s shifting trends. The youth have totally taken over business strategy with regards to virtual communication. They have grown up with this technology, so even if the generation above them have more working experience, the digital natives are at the frontline of all things virtual.

Though some people today from the millennial generation still fight against the extensive need for the digital world, they are extremely outnumbered. CNN reporter Oliver Joy stated, “the war between natives and immigrants is ending. The natives have won. It was a bloodless conflict fought not with bullets and spears, but with iPhones and floppy disks. The post-millennial ‘digital native,’ is emerging as the globe’s dominant demographic, while the ‘digital immigrant,’ becomes a relic of a previous time.”

Nonetheless, it’s has become increasingly difficult to succeed in today’s world for those who don’t adjust their cultural norms with regards to the new digital community.

Ergo, there are many people of previous generations who make great efforts to understand the digital world as to not feel lesser than others. According to an article in the American Press Institute, a majority of millennials feel connected most of the time, but not always enthusiastically. A recent millennial study concluded that 51% say they are mostly or almost always online and connected.

A smaller but still significant number, 39 percent, say their lives are a mix of online and offline. However, just 10 percent are almost always or always offline. Even so, that small number will eventually reach zero as the digital native generation becomes the majority and ultimately, the entirety of the population.

Essentially, absence from the digital world, causing ignorance in many forms, will continue to dwindle as online and technological engagement will always hold extensive inevitable power.