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Bennett, S. (2012). Digital natives. In Z. Yan (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Cyber Behavior: Volume 1 (pp. 212-219). United States: IGI Global.


The term “digital native” was popularized by Prensky (2001) as a means of distinguishing young people who are highly technologically literate and engaged. His central claim was that because of immersion in digital technologies from birth, younger people think and learn differently than older generations. Tapscott (1998) had proposed a similar idea, calling it “The Net Generation,” and there have been numerous labels applied to the same supposed phenomena since. Recent research has revealed that the term is misapplied when used to generalize about an entire generation, and instead indicates that only a small sub-set of the population fits this characterization. This research shows significant diversity in the technology skills, knowledge, and interests of young people, and suggests that there are important “digital divides,” which are ignored by the digital native concept. This chapter synthesizes key findings from Europe, North America, and Australia and predicts future directions for research in this area.

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