Can ‘digital natives’ be ‘strangers’ to digital technologies? An analytical reflection
Although a plethora of extant literature categorises them as natives in the digital world, it has been counter-argued that a considerable group of young people cannot be designated as ‘digital natives’. This argument stems from the evidence for non-enthusiasm, non-exposure as well as non-adeptness to digital/new media technologies among certain groups of young people. Through a scoping review of relevant literature and a thematic content analysis, this article explores digital inequalities suffered by ‘digital natives’ which render them ‘strangers’ in the digital technological world, although they have been born at a time of an abundance of digital communication technologies. It was found that the concept of ‘digital natives’ could be dichotomous – being native based on a period in which one was born and being native through expression of competency in the use of digital technologies. It was also found, among other things, that ‘digital natives’ could be ‘strangers’ in the digital world as a result of disinterest, illiteracy, economic constraints, poor network connectivity, lack of electric power and inadequate practical accessibility. The article concludes that the real ‘digital natives’ are the ones who use and express competency in the use of digital technologies, no matter which limited physical contacts
exist as a result of a global outbreak of disease. There is a need for greater efforts in bridging the digital disparity gap among all generational cohorts as work, business, teaching and learning shift online. One such is to include languages of digitally marginalised groups – digital strangers – (as a result of illiteracy) during programming of digital technologies. This can afford them the opportunity to use the voice optimisation features of digital devices in their local languages or be able to translate text on devices into their local languages in order to effectively deploy them.
Key words: ‘digital natives’; digital strangers; icts; digital technologies; literature review; new media technologies; scoping review; knowledge synthesis; literature review; systematic review