December 27, 2007

Digital Immigrants “Bridging the Generation Gap”

By Richard Livingstone, 4-H Youth Mentor and
Becky Vasquez, 4-H Youth Volunteer

digital handprintYouth today have grown up in a world that is filled with technology. Marc Prensky, author of Don’t Bother Me Mom I’m Learning, refers to them as “Digital Natives”, while adults are “Digital Immigrants”. This means that adults often don’t understand or accept that technology can be used as an educational/instructional tool. The wide variety of technology available to youth allows them to have access to information that older age groups never dreamed of. With the click of a mouse, youth have access to large amounts of information, from encyclopedias once held in paper bound jackets to actual communication with experts in a field they are researching. In addition, many of the computer/video games played by youth have educational value that can be missed if a game is only looked at on the surface. By playing games such as Half Life, Everquest, Sim City, Rise of Nations, and RuneScape, players can learn about cause and effect, the value of persistence, strategy, and tactics. They also learn how to make moral decisions and often immediately see the results of those decisions, an advantage not always available in the nonvirtual world. Technology immigrants may only take these games at face value and not realize the deeper learning going on. Here are some tips for adults to bridge this Technology Gap:

  • Avoid pulling youth away from technology; accept that it is part of their world

  • Learn how to use the internet

  • Ask youth questions about why they play the video games they play

  • Share information about technology with youth to make a connection

  • Take an active interest while youth are engaged in technology

  • Get out there and play some games yourself

Pinellas County 4H is working to increase community education in 4H
using Technology. For more information on using technology as a educational resource or how to involve your family in integrating technology, please contact the 4H Office at (727)582-2215 or

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