Not only does the descriptor “born digital” refer to materials that originated in a digital form, but it also describes today’s kids!
John Palfrey, an educator, scholar, and law professor, wrote a book by the same name—Born Digital—that examines how our future economy, politics, culture, and family lives will be shaped by the first generation of children born into and raised in the digital world. Their parents are referred to as “digital immigrants.” With school starting soon for some states and underway in others, this can be an issue for parents particularly, once homework assignments start rolling in.
Bobbi Newman, author of the “Librarian by Day” blog, has created a thought-provoking presentation that addresses, among other topics, the concept of this new transliteracy skill: “The ability to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.”
So how will we bridge the gap in technology fluency between the last “born analog” generation—the immigrants—and the first wave of digital natives?
We’ll turn to libraries for help, that’s how.
Libraries are offering programming, in some cases in partnership with schools, to offer classes designed to enhance the digital fluency of parents, aided by organizations like Digitallearn.org that provide a platform for sharing ideas and successes.
• Arlington Heights (IL) Memorial Library will offer a series of classes in digital literacy for elementary and junior high school parents, using both the public library and school computer labs.
• Darien (CT) Library offers “Cyber Parents and Digital Natives: A Technology Series for the Modern Family.” Classes cover everything from teaching parents about Facebook, Twitter, age-appropriate apps, and recognizing technology oversaturation to “Little Clickers,” a class in basic computer skills, in which three- to five-year-olds learn alongside their parents or caregivers.
• The Franklin (MA) Public Library, in partnership with the local school district, has offered drop-in sessions in which parents can learn about Instagram, Snapchat, and other apps their kids are using. The instruction is provided by the experts—students!—and remember: it’s “BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)!”.
• The State Library of Iowa suggests resources to help libraries start their own digital literacy initiatives.
• The U.S. Digital Literacy organization also provides a compelling overview of why offering such instruction is essential.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, ““Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn [the language] or leave the country.”
For those of us who are digital immigrants trying to learn the language of new technology: the clock is ticking!