COVID exposes incompetence of digital natives


Exposes? “Reminds”, more like.

COVID exposes incompetence of digital natives /img/digital-natives-incompetence.jpg

A recent survey has “exposed” some very worrying facts about italian minors. Quoting from L’Espresso:

  • in 2020, child poverty reached an all-time high, growing 18% from the previous year
  • 12.3% of minors between the ages of 6 and 17 did not have a PC or tablet even before the pandemic
  • (this is the “best” part, and the actual topic of this post): “despite the fact that today’s young people are digital natives, the lack of skills that emerged was significant”

Concretely, “lack of skills” means that, of all the minors interviewed: * 29.3% were unable to download a file from a school platform * 32.8% did not know how to use a browser for school activities * 11% were unable to share a screen during Zoom calls * 46% were unable to identify fake news, “demonstrating an evident inability to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources“ * a third was unable to describe the legal consequences of publishing offensive comments on social networks

The next time someone gloryfies “Digital Natives”…

… gently hit them with a tablet, please.

That survey did not “discover” or “expose” anything that was not already fully exposed, in plain sight. It just produced up to date figures for realities that were already fully evident, in Italy or any other country, to anybody who actually observes minors. Heck, just look at me “exposing” the same thing fourteen months ago, in full lockdown!

Enough with digital natives’ competence!

As far as competence goes, “Digital Natives” only indicates an age range, something like “born when the Web, or smartphones, already existed”. It has nothing at all to do with any kind of real competence, digital or otherwise.

Whoever still believes, in 2021, that “digital natives” are, by definition, “digitally competent” should stay away from any kind of educational activity. Seriously.

Speaking of real education and competence…

Another finding of that survey is that “30% of minors who did not answer the questions correctly have a mother with no educational qualification or with just an elementary or middle school certificate. This percentage drops to 13.9% for students whose mother has a higher education qualification and to 5.5% if the mother has a university degree. Percentages that become very similar if the father’s educational qualification is taken into account”.

I cannot find the link now, but I remember seeing a paper reporting significant links between the achievements of kids and the number of books in their HOMES, rather than to their parents’ degrees. I wish that survey had checked that too. I say so because I know enough people with PHDs who never read anything they aren’t forced to read by their jobs, with evident consequences on their lives and those of their children.

Image source: The Myths of the Digital Natives”, published in… 2015. Digital natives and “exposing” my foot.

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