In a reaction on the Huftington Post to a new survey going viral about how clueless Americans are concerning Internet terminology, professor Eszter Hargittai from the Communication Studies Department at Northwestern University debunks (again) both the digital native and digital immigrant myth:
“I have been surveying young adults about their digital savvy for a decade and have shown repeatedly that there is large variation in their know-how. Some young adults are quite savvy indeed; they can create their own videos from material found online and upload these to websites and garner large audiences with which they actively engage. But others lack very basic skills, such as knowing how to read and parse web addresses and understanding basic email functionality such as the role of bcc.
Before jumping to the conclusion that this is because young adults do not use email, note that that is another unfounded assumption. They do use email although it may not be their preferred method of communication for corresponding with their friends.
While it is certainly the case that most children and young adults have grown up surrounded by technology and indeed spend considerable time using digital media, it is wrong to equate hours spent on such devices with automatic savvy.”
“Intergenerational assumptions of relative know-how are incorrect as well. Analyzing data from the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadband Survey about the Internet skills of adults of varying ages, I found that among people 50 and under, there was no relationship between age and Internet know-how. Rather, higher income and higher education were related to higher Web-savvy.”