Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Digital Natives - Research


I decided to look into digital natives in some more depth as I want to have a better understanding of my target audience to allow me to be more informed when I produce my design which will be aimed at them. I also thought this could help further develop my current idea of the light hearted vows from print to the audience. 

Below is one definition I found of a digital native, although there is some debate surrounding the specific birth year period that classifies a digital native. 

digital native is a person who was born during or after the general introduction of digital technologies and through interacting with digital technology from an early age, has a greater understanding of its concepts. Alternatively, this term can describe people born during or after the 2000s, as the Digital Age began at that time; but in most cases, the term focuses on people who grew up with the technology that became prevalent in the latter part of the 20th century and continues to evolve today.


I found the following PDF book when I started my search and it had some great explanations and thoughts on digital natives. 



The front cover of this book on its own really sums up the idea of the digital native with the human hand becoming pixelated, this links to a point raised in my essay about how the human touch and craft is getting lost in the digital world. 

I have picked out key points in the book that I found relevant or especially interesting. 

The following defines digital natives as being born after 1980, however I would say that digital natives are actually younger than this as wide use of the internet wasn't until quite a bit later than this. 


The following paragraph gives an interesting and brief summary of key technological inventions explaining how fast the technological world develops. 


The fact that most young people now carry mobile devices that act as a portal not only to communicate but to listen to music, access the internet, etc. suggests the power that technology has in our world and how reliant digital natives have become on technology. 

I included the next paragraph as it refers to digital natives not remembering printed and sent letters as they communicate in a very digital way today through e-mail, texts and social media.


The fact that digital natives don't communicate in written form any more I find quite sad, a written letter or card is far more personal and meaningful than a text or e-mail as personal, human involvement is involved and hand writing itself is very personal. Also receiving a physical item is in my opinion far more pleasing than a simple text, but as this quote explains many digital natives may never have received such forms of communication and so won't appreciate it. This is something to think about in terms of my practical as perhaps encouraging them to communicate in a more physical form would help them see the benefits of print and what it can offer. 


The following I don't think is that relevant to my practical piece but would actually be a great addition to my essay as I discuss the validity and reliability of wikipedia at one point but at the time of writing I could't find a source for this. But here Palfrey talks about the accuracy of wikipedia due to the way users can add to it without authorisation.


This does however still link to the point I want to make through my practical element in that the digital world is not always better and it has many flaws and disadvantages. 


As I continued to search I found another really useful and interesting source this time in the form of a 5805 word essay. 


This essay talks about the online life of the digital native and how there life is different because of this. 






The following makes a very similar point to the Palfrey in the last source I looked at as it talks about the digital methods of communications used today as opposed to letters which as explained here take time and thought to write. 



As this point has been reiterated in this essay I think this is something I should try and address within my practical element, I am not sure how yet but I think getting the audience to communicate via print would hopefully allow them to see the more personal aspect and as a result they would hopefully appreciate one of the qualities that print has to offer in that it can be much more personal and meaningful as you can own and keep it, in addition to the thought being more meaningful than a quick text. 

The essay then went on to talk about the different language used in texts, although I don't think this is as much the case nowadays it is very interesting to read about how digital natives and general 'texters' invented this language to further speed up the communication process. 


It seems that the digital world has a need to be as fast as possible which again removes some of the personal aspect and also some of the enjoyment of communicating. 

This continues with the removal of facial expressions and body language as people meet up in person less due to the many digital methods of communication that are much faster. This paragraph explains how even these expressions have been digitally replaced with the involvement of 'emoticons' such as :) and ;). This almost implies that the audience crave the personal aspect of seeing someones facial expression during conversation, but whilst still wanting to communicate at a fast speed they found a way to digitally replace this. 


Although I knew the following was an issue it was sad to read. 


Printed photographs and photo albums used to feature in almost all households as a way to capture memories in a physical form and such photographs would be framed in homes. Although I do think this is still the case in most homes today I fear that as digital albums become more and more popular that in the future this will not be the case. The above paragraph explains that digital natives share photographs digitally whether this is sending images to their friends or passing their phone around, they don't print the photograph and pass it around. Whereas I can see the cost benefits of this I wouldn't like to think that in the future nobody will print out photographs at all. 


The following refers to how digital natives don't collect in the same way as people used to. This paragraph explains that music is collected and stored very differently in comparison to the past with this being very much digital. 


I am not sure how relevant this is to what I am looking at but it does re-emphasise that digital natives do  a lot of tasks digitally today and again this suggests a lack of/removal of physicality in our modern world. 




As I continued to search for information on digital natives I came across the following article that explains research that was undertaken to see how to get digital natives to engage more with 'mail' (post). As the point was raised in both the previous sources that I looked at that digital natives do not write letter or communicate in such physical forms anymore I thought that this could actually be really relevant to my research and give me possibly more direction for my practical element as the previous sources made me think about encouraging digital natives to communicate in this physical way. 



This does refer more specifically to American digital natives but I do feel the points would still apply to the UK audience. 

This sums up the key points made in the article as well as explaining how large the digital native audience is. 


This is an interesting summary of characteristics and traits often seen in digital natives. 


This didn't really tell me anything that I didn't already know about the audience but it is interesting to read another definition of the audience and again this reiterates how they rely on technology to communicate rather than more traditional forms such as post. 

Below are some of the key points explained in a little more detail, many of these points raised have been really interesting to read and have made me question my current idea for my practical element.


The above explains how receiving parcels excites digital natives and encourages them to check their post. It also explains how despite being very digitally focussed the emotional connection to physical post is there, it is more an issue that they don't use this method to communicate largely any more. 

The following paragraph was interesting to read as it explains that qualities such as high quality paper and interactivity are more engaging for the digital native audience. 


However, the following does go on to explain how digital involvement further encourages digital natives to interact and engage with postal communications, mainly as this is what they are used to. 


But then the article goes back to talking about the emotional and personal connection with physical mail  and how digital natives, the same as other audiences, feel this. The following paragraph talks about scientific research that proves this connection exists. 



This has made me think that if I can communicate to digital natives through posting them something physical then perhaps this will be a more engaging way to communicate with them and this will hopefully mean that they are more likely to pay attention to what I will be saying. 

Below is another statistic proving that digital natives look forward to receiving mail. 


However, I don't think that many digital natives in the UK, in particular teenagers, will receive a great deal if any post as they will have no bills or bank statements and as I have previously identified people do not communicate via the post any more. 

Again the following discusses how digital natives do enjoy getting mail and find letters and cards more personal, which suggests that the issue is that they do not communicate via these forms any more, as I found in the previous articles. 


The paragraph below links back to a previous point about digital natives engaging with quality paper, etc. as this explains that they respond more positively to unique or eye catching features. A survey has backed this up with some digital natives saying they would 'definitely look at this' when showed mail on thick card stock. Again however this is an American audience so I don't want to take this too literally, but it is a good indication that the quality of mail will effect engagement. 


The final point I have included reiterates an early point that parcels are more engaging and exciting to digital natives. 




This research into digital natives has been far more helpful than I originally thought it was going to be and it has lead me to think of ways I could adjust my idea for my practical element to make it more relevant and appropriate to the audience. 


I definitely want to try and encourage the audience to communicate in a hand written form after reading how many digital natives are so reliant on digital communications such as texting, etc. as this will also encourage them to interact with physical forms of print and hopefully from this they will appreciate the more human and personal factors that print can offer over digital. 

After reading about how digital natives engage with the post I have been thinking about instead of simply producing a book produce a mail out pack for digital natives possibly including a small book including the vows but also provide facilities to encourage them to communicate through print. 

This is something I now need to think about and refine.

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