Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Congenitally Digital?

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Congenitally Digital?

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE: "Generational Myth" by Siva Vaidhyanathan, in The Chronicle Review, Sept. 19, 2008.

IN THE WAKE OF THE GREATEST, the beat, the baby boom, and the millennial generations comes the "digital generation," another empty formulation describing an amorphous group with a trait of the moment. Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of media studies and law at the University of Virginia, says that a generation of "digital natives" doesn't exist.

"I am in the constant company of 18-to-23-year-olds. I have taught at both public and private universities, and I have to report that the levels of comfort with, understanding of, and dexterity with digital technologies vary greatly within every class." Overall, Vaidhyanathan finds, students' level of computer savvy hasn't budged in a decade.

"Every class has a handful of people with amazing skills and a large number who can't deal with computers at all," he says. Although studies show that three out of four children had access to a computer at home as long ago as 2003, many used it for playing games rather than connecting to the Internet and taking advantage of its scholastic potential. …

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