Understanding Digital Natives


The term “digital natives” refers to a group of individuals who were born in the age of digital technology. The term was coined by Marc Prensky in his work “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” published in 2001.

Digital Natives have never known a time when they couldn’t be constantly connected via the Internet or mobile phones.

General Characteristics

Digital natives are often described as people with short attention spans who often grow up too soon, are exposed to many adult ideas, and are apathetic to significant concerns facing society. Generally speaking, however, digital natives face many of the same issues other generations faced except that these issues are filtered through new media.

This presents both challenges and opportunities for growth. Influencers must learn to interact and engage within these realms.

Digital Skill Levels

Contrary to popular belief, digital natives have many different skill levels when it comes to technology. Differences can often be attributed to education gaps and socioeconomic status. The idea of community also is a driving force in development of such skills.

Networking Skills

Many members of this group will acquire new skills due to their desire to connect with online and offline networks. Online spaces fluidly help facilitate such interaction. Digital natives understand that these networks can help them engage. They also understand the dangers of such communities and the nuances of various audiences.

Constantly Seeking New Tools & Content

They want tools that allow them to choose who they interact with and how. They tend to not be politically engaged in any arena, but they do understand that their voices can be heard in online platforms. They are interested in protecting rights, but they also want free content that allows greater exposure to new things.

In a nutshell…

When developing content for digital natives, it’s important to recognise their affinity to be engaged in a community; their preference for choices; and varying needs while also addressing concerns common to individuals in any other group.

Over to you…

Have you marketed to a digital native? share your experience…

About Omar Kattan
Omar is MD & Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.


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