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Mind the gap between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants

2 minutes read

Digital Natives Vs Digital Immigrants

Knowing more about the nature of digital marketing services

It’s 2014 and some companies are still asking what digital marketing is, while others are questioning the difference between Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives. It is quite imperative to know the difference since it will give us a clue on the nature of digital marketing services that they provide.

Well, according to Marc Prensky who coined the terms more than a decade ago, Digital Immigrants are people born before the Digital Age and Digital Natives refer to those born during or after the 2000s. But like the ever-changing cut-offs of those qualifying as Baby Boomers, there are discrepancies regarding the actual birth dates for Digital Immigrants since some say North Americans born prior to 1980 also fall under the title, while others argue that generation should be called Digital Intermediates instead.

Whether a Digital Intermediate or Digital Native, the overall perception for both is they have a greater understanding of technology than Digital Immigrants. Ironically, the actual fathers of digital technology are by definition Digital Immigrants—even though it’s debatable whether these digital creators, inventors, designers, and developers should be deemed the true Digital Natives. Further clouding this classification are other sources which suggest being a Digital Native is less tied to the year one is born, and more associated with where one is born, arguing that their digital knowledge and digital marketing services has more to do with culture and geography than time.

If that’s not confusing enough, there are also sub-categories for both Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. The former includes 1) Avoiders (who fail to accept new technology); 2) Reluctant Adopters (who slowly adapt to new technology); and 3) Eager Adopters (who gladly adapt to new technology). Digital Natives fall into similar stereotypes with 1) Avoiders (who, although of the digital age, are not into technology); 2) Minimalists (digital age people who pick and choose technology as it suits them); and 3) Enthusiastic Participants (the majority of Digital Natives who embrace all forms of digital technology and digital marketing services without questioning its purpose in their lives).

Throughout time there have always been generation gaps, but none so great as now since Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives do not speak the same language, thus, the difference between the digital marketing services they provide, lending itself to Strother Martin’s famous line, “What we have here, is a failure to communicate,” in Cool Hand Luke. Of course, this can be solved once Digital Immigrants assimilate to the language of Digital Natives—and when Digital Natives google Cool Hand Luke.