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Digital natives' computing level: the end of a myth

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Generation Y (or digital native) has an undeniable skill in the eyes of many observers: complete mastery of computer tools, the web and smartphones. The press is one of the important relays of this theory. Yet a serious analysis of the phenomenon leads the myth to collapse very quickly.

The big misunderstanding

The birth of a myth of this generation's computer skills is of course based on real observations. Each of us sees teenagers permanently connected to Facebook, three- or four-year-olds intuitively navigating on an iPhone, young hackers undermining the security of international firms... This generation therefore appears to be gifted computer experts.

There is, however, a great misunderstanding in this reasoning: the confusion between cultural habit and competence. It is not enough to know or understand an object culturally to be able to use it correctly.

To enlighten me, let's take the example of a much simpler product: the car. Nowadays, the French are completely familiar with cars: the equipment (steering wheel, engine...), the functioning, the utility... There is therefore an undeniable cultural habit of the product. However, the competence of the French at the wheel is far from being obvious. Just look at road safety statistics: number of accidents, number of French people driving without a licence.

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The IT level of this generation

You're not convinced yet? Let's take a look at the statistics around the competence of the native digital generation. In this generation, 34% students declare not having a sufficient level of computer skills to integrate well into the world of work. (Statbel Study, 2007).

France has a remarkable statistical tool to objectively evaluate the competence of this generation: the success rate for the Computer and Internet Certificate. In fact, we have the results for 350,000 students over a period of 5 years.

This certificate has now been awarded to all students between the 1st and 3rd year of university. It evaluates the level of students on a mastery of internet research, operating system and a first level in office automation. Before taking this exam, they have at least fifteen hours of training. The success rate is less than 36%!

The future of the native digital generation

This generation will have to face the acceleration of the evolution of computing tools with Cloud Computing. This revolution will lead them to lose all or part of the current cultural habit. In short, they will become just like their current parents, whom they so easily make fun of today.

But cultural habit or not, the issue is elsewhere. This generation will need to have regularly updated computer skills. It is therefore essential that they have lifelong training in IT tools.

What do you think?

Gabriel Maurisson is a contributor to the Vodeclic blog.

{Jacuzzi on}

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