Are You Raising a Digital Heir?

Note: This originally appeared in the May Tech-Girl Monthly.

I recently listened to the TED Radio Hour podcast called the Digital Industrial Revolution and was struck by this statement:

“We’re at the beginning of a new machine age where technology is developing at such a rapid pace that we can’t keep up with it. The biggest challenge of our society is can we adapt fast enough.”

It’s not that I didn’t already know that technology is changing rapidly and it’s impossible to keep up, it’s that we’re just at the beginning of this digital revolution. That’s kind of mind blowing, scary and exciting. Into this exponentially changing world, we as parents, teachers, mentors and coaches are still expected to help guide children into their unknowable future. A couple of things stood out to me from the podcast that I think we need to understand to do this:

  1. Knowing the answers is becoming the domain of machines, but asking the right questions is still ours.
  2. Teams of humans and computers working together are more successful than humans or computers working independently.

Into this reality, Alexandra Samuel, author of the article, Forget “digital natives.” Here’s how kids are really using the Internet suggests that young people generally fall into 3 groups with respect to tech:

  • Digital orphans who have unlimited access to tech, but very little guidance.
  • Digital exiles who have very limited access to tech.
  • Digital heirs who have impressive tech skills thanks to parents & teachers.

She goes on to say of digital heirs, that the adults around them encourage their tech education, enroll them in classes and have conversations about responsible use, so that by the time they go to college, they know how to build websites and create videos. They are ready to collaborate with each other and make use of technology to solve problems. We at Tech-Girls are all about helping raise digital heirs because as Erik Brynjolfsson said during his TEDTalk:

“Racing with the machine beats racing against the machine;
technology is not destiny, we shape our destiny.”

Written by

technology activist (miss-bit.com), Tech-Girls founder (tech-girls.org)

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