Ten years ago the global community worried about the digital divide, which refers to a gap in terms of access to and usage of internet and information and communication technologies. Today, although the disparity between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in the online world still exists, much effort has been made to try to narrow the divide so the problem is not as severe as had been previously thought.
However, there are additional issues that have not been mentioned in the past and are emerging, for example, the generational gap between the so-called digital natives and the digital immigrants. This situation can be compared to the generational differences between the World War II generation and the post-war baby boomers, or the boomer generation whose beliefs, values and lifestyles are challenged by their children who were born in Generation X.
Generation Z, or the “digital natives”, is the generation that was born after the Year 2000. The digital natives are growing up in the digital environment, have multidimensional thinking and can manage the large amount of information on multiple media platforms simultaneously. They are highly adaptable to rapid technological changes around them and tend to live much of their lives online. They live in the digital culture, so their thinking is completely different from generations before them who were not born into a digital world, and this makes them “digital immigrants”.
Digitalisation of societies has brought with it cultural encounters between digital natives and digital immigrants. And as the line between the virtual world and the real world is becoming more and more blurred, society is facing a new set of challenges such as public vs. private space, or local culture vs. global culture. While one cannot say how these challenges will end, what we can only do is probably learn and try to adapt to these changes, including unprecedented ethical and moral challenges.
Ian Jukes, “The learning characteristics of digital natives”, in Ruammit Kid Ruang Karn Rian Roo, a book for TK Forum 2014, June 2014.