The term digital native describes younger generations that grew up in the technology age. Most people who are digital natives grew up with the internet, computers, and other advanced digital devices. Because of their early familiarity with these technologies, digital natives adapt to technology quickly and almost effortlessly. Learn more about who digital natives are and how companies can benefit from their native digital experience.
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What Is a Digital Native?
Digital natives are individuals who have grown up with accessible public internet for most or all of their lives. In their lifetime, digital natives have witnessed many technological innovations at a rate that previous generations did not experience in their youths. Most digital natives fall into these three main categories:
- First-generation: These individuals were born after 1980 and before 2000. Particularly for those born in the late 1990s, first-generation digital natives likely had a computer in their home starting in early childhood. First-generation digital natives may also be called Millennials or “Zillennials.”
- Second-generation: These people were born in the early 2000s. Most of their homes had at least one computer when they were growing up and they were exposed to mobile technologies like smartphones during their formative years. This generation is also called Gen Z.
- Third-generation: Also known as Generation Alpha, this generation has never known a world without computers and frequently grows up with multiple computers and mobile devices in their homes.
As an important note, digital native labels primarily apply to people who were raised in developed countries. Many regions around the globe and some parts of developed countries do not have widespread public access to digital technologies.
Digital Native vs Digital Immigrant
Digital immigrants are part of the generation that grew up in the analog world or before personal computers were household standards. Digital immigrants often had no educational or professional experience with computers prior to adulthood and have had to learn how to use these technologies as they’ve become more ubiquitous.
Digital immigrants may have even taken computer and typing classes to learn the basics of how to use a computer. In contrast, digital natives have absorbed this knowledge through childhood exposure. Digital natives also tend to be more open-minded and adaptive when it comes to new technologies and new benefits they can offer.
Digital natives can be great assets in the workplace, especially when teams are looking for quick learners. Learn How to Hire and Retain Digital Natives in Tech here.