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Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives

Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives


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The first generation of “Digital Natives” – children who were born into and raised in the digital world – are coming of age, and soon our world will be reshaped in their image. Our economy, our politics, our culture and even the shape of our family life will be forever transformed.

But who are these Digital Natives? How are they different from older generations – or “Digital Immigrants” – and what is the world they’re creating going to look like? In Born Digital, leading Internet and technology experts John Palfrey and Urs Gasser offer a sociological portrait of these young people who can seem, even to those merely a generation older, both extraordinarily sophisticated and strangely narrow.

Based on extensive original research, including interviews with Digital Natives around the world, Born Digital explores a broad range of issues, from the highly philosophical to the purely practical: What does identity mean for young people who have dozens of online profiles and avatars? Should we worry about privacy issues – or is privacy even a relevant concern for Digital Natives? How does the concept of safety translate into an increasingly virtual world? Are online games addictive, and how do we need to worry about violent video games? What is the Internet's impact on creativity and learning? What lies ahead – socially, professionally, and psychologically – for this generation?

A smart, practical guide to a brave new world and its complex inhabitants, Born Digital will be essential reading for parents, teachers, and the myriad of confused adults who want to understand the digital present – and shape the digital future.


“Ultimately, the book is an accessible survey of many of these as-yet-unsolved Internet dilemmas of our time and is well executed given the immense task of synthesizing the vast corpus of social science concerns relating to the Internet.”
-Library Journal

“Energetic, expert, and forward-looking, the authors serve as envoys between the generations... As old institutions crumble, there is a need for just this sort of enlightening, commonsensical, and positive guide to digital reality.”

“Born Digital offers an excellent primer on what it means to live digitally. It should be required reading for adults trying to understand the next generation.”
-Nicholas Negroponte, author of Being Digital

“Digital technologies are changing our kids in ways we don't yet understand. This beautifully written book will set the framework for a field that will change that. It is required reading for parents, educators, and anyone who cares about the future.”
-Lawrence Lessig, author of Code and Free Culture

“From now on, any attempt to understand what it is like to grow up or to live one's life in a digital world must begin with this outstanding, original synthesis.”
-Howard Gardner, author of Five Minds for the Future and Multiple Intelligences

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