Internet: Pacifier of Digital Natives?

Is the Internet the Digital Pacifier of our Digital Natives? 

This is a question that was posed by Bill Lammers.  He conveys an incident in his high school classroom where the students were working intently on their assignments when . . . suddenly . . .  the Internet Died.

Some students squirmed because they didn’t think that they would be able to work on their assignment without the Internet.  Others squealed in delight when they realized that they didn’t have to work on their assignments but moaned in anguish when they decided that they “couldn’t do anything else” because their window to the world, The Internet, was down.

Read Lammers’ posting at The Pacifier of the Digital Natives

Blammer (Bill Lammers) makes an interesting observation when he notes how tied to the Internet his students were. I was talking with a reporter the other day who told me that some of his interns were literally lost without their GPSs. They had no problem finding places when their smartphones had full access to the web, but they had no idea about how to read a map. They had no idea how to find north and what all of the squiggly lines on the map meant.

Is this a crime or merely a Symbol of the Times? What do you think?  Read Lammers’ article and then join in the discussion here about being connected to the world through the Internet has changed the skill set for our digital natives.

Join the discussion in the comments section below.


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0 thoughts on “Internet: Pacifier of Digital Natives?

  1. I have problems finding places with or without the internet, GPS, maps, printed directions…………I just need to stay on public transit, walk, or hire a driver! A butler would be nice too……………..

  2. First of all, thanks Dr. Z for using my reflection on this topic.

    This is a discussion that has not gone away in the past months since I posted this reflection in January. Indeed, we rely upon technology more and more. One colleague who had a grandparent work in the telephone industry mentioned that the reliance upon the telephone was tenuous at best when it first emerged as a technology – and then became the utility that still worked when the power went out. You might not be able to turn on the lights, but you could still call the electric company to tell them that the lights were out. This is an inherent trait of technology – it tends to get more reliable as time goes past.

    What is scary about today's digital world is that while there are teams of technicians ensuring the availability of data and voice access, there are so many overlapping concerns that use and/or run this data. Ten years ago, the Northeast was plunged into darkness. A series of events contributed to this, but according to the NERC Task force charged with investigation, the first event was this: "12:15 p.m. Incorrect telemetry data renders inoperative the state estimator, a power flow monitoring tool operated by the Indiana-based Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO). An operator corrects the telemetry problem but forgets to restart the monitoring tool." The "operator" in this case was a human being.

    We automate so many things – and at some point, there is a human. The Hubbel Telescope is at first myopic because someone was off by 1.3 mm. Workers forgot to replace one valve on the Piper Bravo Oil Rig. Pilot error is the leading cause behind aircraft safety incidents. As I posted, I do fear that there will be a day when someone has a "human moment" and things go horribly wrong for our information transfer system.

    I do think that skills like reading maps, navigating a dictionary and and handwriting are essential – even though we don't use them that much anymore. At the very least, it satisfies the "worst case scenario" fear that admittedly may never happen, but it also engages learners – and their brains – in ways that Googling, MapQuesting and InstaGramming don't.

    What do you think?

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