Growing Up Online

Friday, January 30, 2009


A whole generation of children has grown up connected to the Internet. Berkman Center for Internet & Society director John Palfry calls these kids “digital natives.” Palfrey argues in his book Born Digital that they see the world in a profoundly different way than the rest of us.

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Comments [5]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

I have to say that, from the interview, I was left with no real idea of how different and what nature the difference in worldviews of digital natives is from digital immigrants and judging from Palfry's reply to Peter, it is less significant than implied by his brief answer to Bob on the subject.

I'm guessing the Berkman Center for Internet & Society just doesn't have enough data yet to really say. Maybe layman, especially parents, might be able to give us better answers if they aren't too busy playing helicopter to their distracted kids.

Feb. 03 2009 11:33 AM
robert ivan from

Great interview. I Think it dovetails nicely with this recent video from Davos 2009 on Mobile Technology with Michael Arrington from TechCrunch moderating a panel on the Next Digital Experience with Chad Hurley (YouTube), Craig Mundie (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Shananu Narayen (Adobe), Hamid Akhvan (T-Mobile) and Eric Clemons (Wharton).

Feb. 01 2009 11:39 PM
John Palfrey from Cambridge, MA

Dear Peter of New York:

I absolutely agree: on privacy, there's very little difference between young people and older people who have spent similar amounts of time online, from what we've seen. And, as we note in Born Digital, some of the least sophisticated people in this regard are in fact adults who reveal too much information on dating sites. Among kids, there's a wide spectrum of sophistication, as there is among adults.

John Palfrey

Feb. 01 2009 04:46 PM
Saul Gitlin from White Plains, NY

Note for Bob Garfield:
In reference to one of your comments in this story:
You lump "Mandarin, Korean, and Japanese" into a group of languages that use pictographs. This is incorrect, and perhaps misleading for some of your listeners.
My comments:
1. You should refer to the written language as "Chinese"...NOT Mandarin. The written Chinese language is common to all dialects, whereas designations such as "Mandarin" or "Cantonese" or "Shanghainese", etc. refer to regional SPOKEN versions/dialects of Chinese.
2. Please note that both Korean and Japanese are predominantly written in alphabets...NOT pictographs. It is true that some words borrowed into Japanese during the time of the ancient Tang dynasty are rendered today in Chinese characters within Japanese script. However, most modern Japanese writing takes the form of two Japanese alphabets - katakana, and hiragana.
As for Korean, it is written today in a unique Korean alphabet. Chinese characters were historically borrowed and used (and sometimes may still appear in publications) but the younger generation of Koreans - in most cases - neither uses these pictographs nor always can read them.

Feb. 01 2009 03:53 PM
Peter from New York

As a 37-year-old college professor, I have the opportunity to observe digital natives in my classes as well as digital immigrants in my social circle, and I'm not impressed with the natives.

As far as attitudes to privacy or piracy are concerned, I see little difference between natives and educated immigrants. Moreover, membership in the digital natives does not seem to impart any technical skill or competency beyond the ability to confidently click on a shiny icon. Maybe we should call them digital pigeons instead.

Feb. 01 2009 11:48 AM

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