Who is a digital native anyway?

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs the term “Digital Native”. But who exactly is one?

In recent years, digital native has been used as an umbrella term to encompass someone who has grown up surrounded by digital technology, most times (literally) at their fingertips. Since digital natives have been exposed to technology from a young age, they are comfortable with and skilled at using technology in almost all facets of life.

While many millennials have grown up in the digital era, the term digital native is more applicable to both Gen Z (mid 1990s- early 2010s) and Gen Alpha (not all born yet) as they are generations born into a world where digital technology was already widely available and integrated into daily life. From smartphones, tablets, smart-watches and beyond, most Gen Z use at least one or a handful of digital devices daily. To this end, you’ll often see many Gen Z’ers multitasking and switching with ease between different digital devices and platforms. Gen Z has become accustomed to using digital technology to communicate with friends, share experiences, and stay up to date with the latest trends.

Gen Z’s familiarity with digital technology has shaped the way they interact with the world and has influenced their expectations for how things should work. It’s important for companies to be aware of Gen Z’s digital fluency especially for organizations that are looking to engage with this demographic. Gen Z’s reliance on technology means that they are more likely to use digital channels to communicate, access information, and make purchasing decisions. Understanding their preferences will not only help businesses improve the overall customer experience for young people but give insight into ways organizations can cater their own workforce development strategies to be more Gen Z friendly. Employers who incorporate technology into their teaching and training methods through a “digital first” approach will have more success retaining and developing young talent. This can involve providing digital tools and resources, and emphasizing learning and development opportunities that leverages or builds upon Gen Z’s digital skills. 

Understanding Gen Z’s high degree of digital fluency is essential for companies to effectively engage with this generation and adapt to their preferences and behaviors to create a more successful and innovative business. Companies that fail to understand and adapt to Gen Z’s digital fluency risk falling behind in a rapidly changing digital landscape.

Via Valenti is a DE&I Strategy Consultant and resident Gen Z expert at GVC, an inclusion business strategy firm. To learn more visit diversitystrategy.com.

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