Chapter 45: Kids are Digital Natives

Native speakers

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Have you ever heard people talking about “digital natives” and “digital immigrants”? Marc Prenzky made up those terms nearly 15 years ago in an article he wrote for a magazine called On the Horizon. All those years ago, Prenzky noticed something that other people were overlooking at the time. He noticed that our children were growing up surrounded by technology.

Prenzky was right. From infancy on, our kids are surrounded by computers, video games, digital music and smart phones. Unlike their parents who had to learn to use technology as a “second language,” kids are growing up with technology as their native tongue. Kids today speak the language of electronics; they use it fearlessly and with ease.

Harness the power of tech

You can use your child’s interest in digital media and technology as a way to engage her interest in reading. We’ve already mentioned using e-readers and reading apps. Below are a few other high-tech ways to interest your child in reading.

  • Release the robots – Today, there are kits available for kids of all ages that allow children to build real, interactive robots. These kits have instruction books and changeable programing that all must be read before the robots can be brought to life.
  • Lights, camera, action! – If you have a video camera, or even a phone that takes video, consider letting your child make some mini movies. She can enlist friends and family to play the different roles. To make sure that reading is part of the experience, have her write out a script first and then read it out loud to you for approval.
  • STEM toys – STEM refers to science, technology, electronics, and math. Many educators believe that STEM education is vital if our children are to compete in the increasingly global marketplaces of tomorrow. The cool thing is that most kids are eager to dive into technology and electronics. Great tech-related toys include games that teach programing and kits that let kids make cameras, simple computers, and even motion detectors. All of these, of course, requiring reading. Find a tech toy that sparks your child’s imagination, and watch her reading skills flower!

If high-tech toys and gadgets are out of reach financially, talk with someone at your child’s school or even at the local library. There may be science and tech kits for kids that are available for check out.


On the Horizon, MCB University Press, Vol.9 No. 5, “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,” copyright Marc Prenzky,,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf