Nishant Shah was invited to do a book review of a new anthology 'Deconstructing Digital Natives', edited by Michael Thomas. The review was published in Routledge's Journal of Children and Media on July 18, 2012.
Deconstructing Digital Natives: Young People, Technology and the New Literacies is an anthology that revisits the debates and scholarship that have arisen around youth and technology in the last decade or so. It is a timely intervention that invites some of the most influential scholars who have contributed to and shaped the discourse around “digital natives” to come and revisit their original ideas from the last decade.
The term “digital native” probably bears witness to the strident discourses that, more often than not, fall into the trap of exotically glorifying or despairingly vilifying young peoples’ engagement with digital technologies. As Buckingham points out in his foreword to the book, these conversations either take up the language of a “generation gap [that] entails a narrative of transformation and even of rupture, in which fundamental continuities between the past and the future have been destroyed” or they guise themselves in an “almost utopian view of technology—a fabulous story about technology liberating and empowering young people, enabling them to become global citizens, and to learn and communicate and create in free and unfettered ways” (p. ix).
The essays seek a point of departure from these tried and tested arguments in order to provide a “balanced view” on the topic. And so we have a distinguished author list from the world of digital natives scholarship, coming together not only to ponder on their own contributions to the field and how those ideas need to be upgraded, but also to provide new contexts, concepts, and frameworks to understand who, or indeed, what, is a “digital native,” often in tension with their earlier work.
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