Since the tail end of the 20th century onward, technology has become more and more prevalent to the point where it’s integrated in everything we do to some degree. It’s responsible for the rapid acceleration of globalization, and for changing more or less every aspect of communication and interaction. For some people, technology is an option rather than a constant medium, but for a huge portion of people alive today, digital technology is an indispensable resource.
If you’re one of the latter and born near the turn of the 21st century, then it’s entirely possible that you’re a digital native. Aren’t familiar with the term? A digital native is someone ‘who was born after the widespread adoption of digital technology’, and who has grown up immersed in and making use of digital technology such as the internet, computers and mobile devices. This early and continuous exposure to technology gives digital natives greater familiarity and intuitiveness when it comes to technology.
Your era of birth doesn’t always predicate your nativeness though. To misquote Shakespeare, some are born to digital nativeness, some achieve digital nativeness and some have digitalization thrust upon them.
But how do you tell whether you’re a digital native or not? We talked to Lifehacker Australia editor, Angus Kidman, about ways to figure out your digital native status:
4 ways to know if you ARE a digital native
1. You’re frustrated by sites that aren’t optimized for mobile
A vast majority of digital natives will own a smartphone, and will use their smartphone for a plethora of purposes. As Mr Kidman puts it, “if you’re a digital native, you’ll always assume that a web site will work on your mobile”. A website not having a perfectly tailored mobile interface is a heinous crime in a world that has had iPhones for nearly a decade now. There’s really no excuse for it.
2. You don’t understand why people still watch live TV
The digital native knows that 99% of everything that appears on their television screen is available on demand online. Subsequently, they’re rather confused by people who still play puppet for the television networks by sitting down at 7:30 every night for their favourite show. “If you’re a digital native, you’ll be able to name a dozen YouTube stars,” observes Mr Kidman.
3. App names become verbs
Facebooked, Snapchatted, Instagrammed; digital natives have no problem with merging the names of phone apps and the English language. App names become verbs, and these verbs become stand-ins for the actions carried out for the app in question. Mr Kidman agrees, saying that “If you’re a digital native, you’ll happily talk about Tindring someone. If you’re not, you’ll be deeply confused.”
4. You’re constantly on the search for free wifi
If you’re a digital native, you’ve almost always got a phone or a laptop/tablet at hand; if so, free wifi is a godsend for you, and you’ll always be checking for any in the area.
4 ways to know that you’re NOT a digital native
1. Swiping doesn’t seem intuitive to you
Almost 100% of phone apps make use of swiping in some form and with the increasing prevalence of touch screens in laptops, swiping is becoming a big part of computer use as well. So if you don’t like swiping, or don’t see it as an intuitive feature of mobiles and computers by now, you’re probably not a digital native.
2. You’re worried about the cost of postage
Despite posting a recent after-tax profit, revenue at New Zealand Post is on the decline, with job losses and the challenges of finding cheaper ways to deal with falling mail volumes high on the agenda. We live in an age where the ways you can communicate with someone via free technological services are endless, so if you’re worried about how much it’ll cost you to send a letter to someone in future years – if you’ve even sent a letter to someone other than your grandmother in the recent past – your status as a digital native is doubtful.
3. You don’t feel the need to have your phone on you always
By nature, the digital native requires, or at least desires, constant (if only partial) immersion in technology. One way of achieving this is constantly having your phone on hand. If you can go a day or two without so much as looking at your phone, there’s no question about it; you’re no digital native.
4. You don’t enjoy or aren’t adept at using digital technology
This is the easiest way to figure out if you’re not a digital native. If you have to use a computer for something and you’re either not 100% comfortable or confident, you’re almost definitely not a digital native.