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Digital natives and ostrich tactics?: the possible implications of labelling young people as digital experts

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This document has been commissioned as part of the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Beyond Current Horizons project, led by Futurelab. The notion of a generation uniquely at home in a digital environment – the Digital Natives – is increasingly being challenged. Expertise and experience are just as important as generation in explaining activities that are considered indicative of digital nativeness. This means that people advocating the death of schools due to an irreconcilable gap between educators and students are wrong. Nevertheless, cross-generational understanding is hampered by an insistence on identifying all young people as digital natives, ignoring evidence to the contrary. The findings presented in this paper suggest the erroneous identification of a whole generation as digital natives might lead to an overestimation of young people's skills in dealing with the risks and negative experiences associated with the internet. Younger generations are less likely to seek help than older generations and more likely to ignore the risks they do encounter without taking action to prevent these from happening again – here labelled the "ostrich tactic". If young people can shed the "Digital Native" identity they might be more likely to seek help when they need it.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/26878/

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