Have you ever noticed kids these days? How they are able (claim to be able) to "multi-task" - TV switched on, using the laptop to browse the Internet or browse a book, toy cars in the other hand being moved here and there and all these happening whilst he is having his lunch. Well, this is the activity profile of my son, Elijah, 6 years of age this month, for the last 1.5 years or so.
The term "DIGITAL NATIVE" comes to mind. Wikipedia states that the term digital native, which was coined by Marc Prensky and also used by Gartner in their presentations, refers to a person who has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3 - it pertains to a new breed of student entering educational establishments. The term draws an analogy to a country's natives, for whom the local religion, language, and folkways are natural and indigenous, over against immigrants to a country who often are expected to adapt and assimilate to their newly adopted home. A number of parents or some grandparents are probably more akin to Digital Immigrants. I try to find comfort to be more associated to a "Digital Settler", being in the industry, immersing myself and keeping up to this new fast-paced, solution-driven, and attention-lacking mental model our kids (tweens, teens) are capable of and yet at the same time, be able to absorb information, and regurgitate when the need arises!
Marc Prensky's article also mentions the following from a student, "School didn't teach me to read—I learned from my games." Familiar? I see that in my son who talks about (and recognized off the road) Ferraris, Lombourginis, asks me about little geography like Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo - all these by playing the Game Asphalt in his portable gaming device.
I also hear from others that their children do not read newspapers any more - their teenagers claim that they are not out of touch; on the contrary, the teenagers get their own dose of news they find relevant to their lives from the Internet.
Used to the old adage from my parents (I am) on the need to focus on 1 thing at time (though nowdays I also tend to read a few books, magazines at a time, at times during the news on TV). What I am now trying to do, is to learn how to address my old mental model, adapt to the new trends in how kids today behave - these digital natives, who are so comfortable with technology and browsing multiple information at a go.
Most interested to hear (I would be) from the observations and learnings from all parents out there - do you observe the same in your children and how are you coping in your conversations and guidance to your children in their studies and everyday life with regards to this fast-track dizzying skimming from 1 activity to another syndrome. Do help comment to this post.
More notes on the term "Digital Native" can be found here in this link from Marc Prensky.