Bennett, Susan J. and Maton, Karl, 2010, Beyond the 'digital natives' debate: towards a more nuanced understanding of students' technology experiences, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(5), 321-331.
The idea of the 'digital natives', a generation of tech-savvy young people immersed in digital technologies for which current education systems cannot cater, has gained widespread popularity on the basis of claims rather than evidence. Recent research has shown flaws in the argument that there is an identifiable generation or even a single type of highly adept technology user. For educators, the diversity revealed by these studies provides valuable insights into students' experiences of technology inside and outside formal education. While this body of work provides a preliminary understanding, it also highlights subtleties and complexities that require further investigation. It suggests, for example, that we must go beyond simple dichotomies evident in the digital natives debate to develop a more sophisticated understanding of our students' experiences of technology. Using a review of recent research findings as a starting point, this paper identifies some key issues for educational researchers, offers new ways of conceptualizing key ideas using theoretical constructs from Castells, Bourdieu and Bernstein, and makes a case for how we need to develop the debate in order to advance our understanding.