The Digital Generation

I was walking through a bookstore a few weeks ago and saw a book titled The Dumbest Generation. Needless to say, the title immediately rubbed me the wrong way. If that was author Mark Bauerlein’s goal, I now give him my full respect, as I proceeded to pick it up and purchase it.

The Dumbest Generation can be summarized by its subtitle: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future. It was a great read and Bauerlein had some solid points, but it got me wondering if the Digital Age really is making millennials the “dumbest” generation. Or is it just making society view us that way?

In a time when we are becoming ever more reliant on technology, it doesn’t make sense to claim that the Digital Age is making our youth unintelligent. I was born in 1993. The World Wide Web was introduced shortly before that time. Today, I’m 22, and have learned to use computers primarily through trial and error, rather than through formal education.

For instance, in elementary school I vividly remember using the colorful Apple iBooks for various tasks in school. However, we were never properly taught how to use these large, clunky laptops. We knew how to open Microsoft Word and, if a student was lucky enough, figured out how to browse the Internet on their own time.

We should be changing the classroom curriculum as a whole to introduce digital resources to students at a young age. There’s no doubt that “technology in classrooms has experienced something of a bumpy rollout,” and millennials and later generations are the Guinea pigs for experimenting with the best approaches to using these resources for educational purposes.

The Digital Age is a transition in how we obtain information and communicate. There will be people that insist on honoring the learning practices of the past, but that simply will not suffice with how dependent jobs are becoming on technology and digital education.

We are undoubtedly still learning how to use these digital resources. In any transition in society, learning how we can best utilize these resources will not happen overnight, nor will it happen in a few years. The Digital Age is presenting us with the opportunity to learn more, and learn quicker than ever. The sooner we can learn how to utilize and navigate these new digital resources, the sooner we can all benefit from them.


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