The Myth of the Digital Native and What It Means for Higher Education



Publication Details

Corrin, L., Apps, T., Beckman, K. & Bennett, S. (2018). The Myth of the Digital Native and What It Means for Higher Education. In A. Attrill-Smith, C. Fullwood, M. Keep & D. J. Kuss (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Cyberpyschology (pp. 1-19). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.


The term "digital native" entered popular and academic discourse in the early 1990s to characterize young people who, having grown up surrounded by digital technology, were said to be highly technologically skilled. The premise was mobilized to criticize education for not meeting the needs of young people, thereby needing radical transformation. Despite being repeatedly discredited by empirical research and scholarly argument, the idea of the digital native has been remarkably persistent. This chapter explores the myth of the digital native and its implications for higher education. It suggests that the myth's persistence signals a need to better understand the role of technology in young people's lives. The chapter conceptualizes technology "practices," considers how young adults experience technology in their college and university education, and how their practices are shaped by childhood and adolescence. The chapter closes with some propositions for educators, institutions, and researchers.

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