Kids not that tech savvy after all

It's a myth that youngsters are more capable than elders

03 August 2017 - 06:44 By luke mintz
Boy playing on a tablet. File photo.
Boy playing on a tablet. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/iStockphoto

It is a typical household scene: a parent or grandparent asks their technology-savvy child to help them use a smartphone, laptop or camera.

But the common idea that millennials are more technologically capable than their elders is, in fact, a myth, according to a new study.

A review paper published in the journal Teaching and Teacher Education finds that "information-savvy digital natives do not exist".

The study challenged the increasingly popular idea that those born before 1980 are "digital immigrants" - doomed to be imposters in a computer-based land - while those born after 1980 are "digital natives".

Instead, the study likens the myth of the below 35-year-old digital native to a "yeti with a smartphone".

Paul Kirschner, a professor of educational psychology at the Open University of the Netherlands and co-author of the paper, argues that the myth of the tech-savvy teenager is damaging children's education, as schools rush to adapt their teaching styles.

"We have to treat people as human, cognitive learners and stop considering one specific group to have special powers," he said.

The paper, built on a 2011 review for the Higher Education Academy in York, showed that many young people use technology in the same way as their parents: to "passively soak up information".

The paper criticised the push to adapt teaching styles to match young people's supposed love for technology.

"Children say they prefer IT in their lessons and courses," the paper said.

"Do schools listen when kids say they prefer chips for lunch every day?"

- The Daily Telegraph