The claim that there is a distinctive new generation of students in possession of sophisticated technology skills and with learning preferences for which education is not equipped to support has excited much recent attention. Proponents arguing that education must change dramatically to cater for the needs of these digital natives have sparked an academic form of a ‘moral panic’ using extreme arguments that have lacked empirical evidence.
The picture beginning to emerge from research on young people’s relationships with technology is much more complex than the digital native characterisation suggests. While technology is embedded in their lives, young people’s use and skills are not uniform. There is no evidence of widespread and universal disaffection, or of a distinctly different learning style the like of which has never been seen before.