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What do employers need to know about ‘digital natives’?

The terms ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ have existed for years

The terms ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ have existed for years; however, it is possible that we no longer have a need for them. Why is this, and what do employers need to know?

Are you a digital native?

For a long time, these terms have dominated the way in which leaders and creators have viewed people who use the internet. Many companies specifically design websites and technology that meet the needs of digital natives, believing that digital natives struggle to work with technology that is over 10 years old. They may also avoid hiring older people to work with technology, assuming they are less competent than someone who was raised using the internet.

This can cause a series of issues. One of the main issues is the idea that someone’s age exclusively dictates how they use the internet; in reality, everyone is different and there are many older people who have quickly adapted to using the internet.

For this reason, it is time to stop using the phrase ‘digital natives’, or the term needs to be expanded to include people besides millennials. Instead of creating products that cater to age-specific groups, we need to create products that are simply aimed at anyone who is comfortable and competent online.

This is a more inclusive way to think about technology and could even help brands and companies to reach a wider audience.

Do digital immigrants still exist?

It is important to note that people are excellent at adapting to new situations; therefore, to split people into two groups of digital ‘cans’ and digital ‘can nots’ is very problematic. Remember that both people and IT can adapt to new situations; therefore, anyone can become a digital native, from your new intern to an employee who has worked for the company for over 40 years.

The future of the digital world

As technology advances, products become more user centric, which means they are entirely built around the needs of the user. In turn, this means that many digital products can be used by everyone, including people who are comfortable online and people who might be less comfortable.

Many companies have spent the past decade focusing on hiring digital natives and excluding digital immigrants; however, the next decade is more likely to see companies creating products that adapt to people rather than vice versa.

This makes it much easier for companies to hire a wider range of people and means that they are more likely to create products that meet the needs of everyone, rather than just a select group of people.

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