Net dependence sapping our life skills?

Whilst researching on the net I came across an article that caught my eye, Net dependence sapping our life skills in which the author states that the current generation are losing some of the skills relied upon by previous generations. His article stated:

  • His (digital native) son was unable to read a map when his satellite navigation system was down.
  • Today’s generation expect to access answers to questions immediately via Google.
  • ‘Mobile phones and the internet have ruined an entire generation’s self-reliance’.
  • ‘Today’s generation have lost the joy of studying books, maps, papers and other non-electronic devices’ and so on.

I found myself disagreeing with his comment that ‘mobile phones and the internet have ruined an entire generation’s self-reliance’ as well as the other comments he makes about how students may be lacking/missing out on experiences. The internet has greatly enriched opportunities for enhanced learning experiences via podcasts, wikis, blogs, multi-media, RSS and other resources. Students are becoming self-reliant on how to access information and discern between reliable and non-reliable information. They learn many more skills than previous generations in information retrieval and are exposed to a wider variety of knowledge They are involved in a world of connectedness, collaboration and sharing, all of which enrich and expand their knowledge bank.

By no longer being confined to the walls of their classrooms they can connect with other students outside their school and outside their country. Their learning becomes real-life exchange experiences. These different experiences lead to different brain experiences (Prensky 2001). Learners think and process information differently than their predecessors and their thinking patterns have changed.

Personally I would rather be educated in today’s climate than in the generation I grew up in. Living in the information age means that people need to develop the skills that will enable them to effectively function in society. Technology is moving at such a pace that even the simplest of jobs requires people to use technology. What it means for the future of Australia is that education needs to keep pace with change and not be stuck in traditional pedagogical methods of teaching to enable learners to fulfil their potential in the knowledge society. Unless teachers (and parents) make the effort to connect, they are unable to meet today’s learners’ needs. They need to connect to speak the same language and co-exist with the digital natives!

Does anyone agree that net dependence has sapped our life skills?

References: Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, On the Horizon, Vol. 9, No. 5, NCB University Press.