A challenge for Digital Natives

By Alexa Jones

Alexa JonesI still remember my first experiences with a computer. My first babysitter would bring me over to her house where a large, clunky computer sat in the dining room. It used dial-up, and I remember that screeching noise precisely.

We would sit watching animated videos on a site called HomeStarRunner and laugh for hours. We still quote these cartoons to this day.

Then came the computer games — the Harry Potter CD-ROM, to be exact — and later on, Xanga, Myspace, and MSN Messenger.

I believe my age group is the oldest of the “Digital Natives”, people who were born in the Internet era, and it has shaped me more than I’d like to admit.

I never knew a world without technology. My parents did a great job of making sure I played outdoors and read physical books, but technology still played a huge part in my childhood. I remember watching, terrified, as news headlines scrolled across the television on September 11th, 2001. I also remember the many joys it brought me. It watched me grow up, switching from online Nickelodeon games to flirting with pre-teen boys from my middle school on my Myspace page while I watched MTV. It’s always fascinated me, and Media Studies was a perfect fit for my University studies.

My experience with media has turned sour, unfortunately. I’ve seen the effects of over-using social media on young people firsthand, the decline of the music industry thanks to online sharing platforms, as well as the 2016 election turn into a laughable reality show.

My hope for the future — using my newfound media literacy knowledge as ammo — is to simply make us smarter producers and consumers of media. We cannot escape it, but we might be able to change it. We may be able to get our news networks to be honest with us again, stop cyber bullying, and stop all that Fakebook news nonsense. All it will take is a little diligence.

We have the knowledge and, with a whole world of reliable sources at our fingertips, the power to decipher truth from lies… the one thing we do not have, however, is patience.

Technology has made our world spin at lightning speed, and we thrive on instant gratification. This is the greatest threat to truth and media literacy: we believe the first thing we see, immediately. We do not like to take any extra time or “waste” it; it’s always scroll, scroll, scroll, on to the next.

My goal as a media scholar is to encourage patience, extend attention spans, and prove to ourselves (and especially the older generations) that Digital Natives are not just self-centered, whining “snowflakes”. We are the future of this country, and must take issues into our own hands.


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