Growing Up in Today’s Digital Society

I found many of the points discussed in this week’s reading to be interesting so I picked two to discuss.  The first point mentioned was about collaboration and how learning is different in the digital age.

Tapscott discusses collaboration on page 18 in his book Grown Up Digitial.  He states, “The new Web is a communications medium that enables people to create their own content, collaborate with others, and build communities,” (18, 2008).  In today’s digital age people are able to collaborate by using sites such as Wiki. A wiki allows the user(s) to read and change content “in collaboration with others” on just about any given topic ( People can also build communities by playing games such as Minecraft and World of Warcraft.  Games like Minecraft can actually teach students digital citizenship by helping students work together in online settings.  Palfrey and Gasser (2008), discuss how digital citizenship is so important to teach our students.  Imagine engaging our students in games such as Minecraft to help them learn how to be behave and communicate safely on the internet.  Actually using the internet is much more engaging than simply discussing how one should behave on the internet.

I found this quick YouTube video that briefly describes how Minecraft can be used in the classroom.


A second point Tapscott explains is how many Net Gen children are not willing to simply accept what they are given.  Net Geners “are the active initiators, collaborators, organizers, readers, writers, authenticators…,” (21, 2008).  Net Geners “inquire, discuss, argue, play, shop, critique, investigate, ridicule, fantasize, seek, and inform,” (Tapscott, 2008).  I can recall on several different occasions when a student might ask a teacher a question where he/she did not have an answer for the students.  In the past, students would return the next day and the teacher would provide the answer to whatever question was asked.  In today’s digital world, teachers no longer need to seek out these answers because their students’ are doing it for them.  Students today, enjoy searching on the internet and finding answers to their questions.

On the flip side, a common argument for this would be that, “They’re [kids are] dumber than we were at their age,” (Tapscott, p. 3, 2008).  Some people say things like, “They don’t read and are poor communicators,” (Bly, Robert as cited in Tapscott, 2008).  Many parents and even employers would agree with this statement.  In my personal experience, I see families who go out to dinner and rather than communicate with one another they are each on a tablet, pc, or cell phone while they wait for their meal to arrive.  Mark Bauerlein and Harpaz “worry that kids who can look up instructions on the internet or their cell phones won’t learn how to “figure things out or solve problems,”” (as cited by Joyner, James 2010).  Some people would argue that when students are faced with difficult problems that require critical thinking, students often given up and look for “cheats” or answers on the internet.  These are just a few examples of why some people feel children are “dumber than we were at their age”.

Here again one could argue the other way as well; I have spent time playing Minecraft with my children while they designed and built playgrounds for a STEM lesson.  My children did an excellent job designing and constructing the playgrounds; they learned a great deal about the engineering process and had fun doing it.  So, does “going digital” really mean our children have to be “dumber”?  I don’t think so, however it seems clear that too much technology can have a negative impact on how we interact with other people.  While technology can serve as a medium for communication and collaboration there is still great value in face-to-face communication.




Tapscott, Donn. (2008). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your        World.  McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.


“Wiki” Retrieved Online from:

Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.


Using Minecraft as an Educational Tool. (2013). Retrived online May 20, 2014 from


Palfrey, John and Gasser, Urs. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation     of Digital Natives.   [On-line] Retrieved May 20, 2014 from: 


Joyner, James. (2010). The Dumbest Generation: Does Technology Make Kids Dumb? Retrieved Online

May 20, 2014 from:


11 thoughts on “Growing Up in Today’s Digital Society

  1. Love the video! It’s a clear message, thanks for sharing! I particularly like the point made about finding something kids already enjoy (Minecraft) and integrating that into the classroom. I never really think about teaching digital citizenship in my math classroom as we are so focused on getting through the required curriculum in a timely matter. However, I do try to implement a similar idea of enhancing an existing idea to teach new concepts. Why reinvent the wheel if you can use your creativity and add flare to spice up an existing activity/game to get a point across.

    • Nicole,

      Hard to believe, but this is the first time I successfully added a video to my blog post. I have been posting to a blog for over a year now and had never done it. 🙂 I honestly had not put too much thought into digital citizenship either. I am currently not teaching since we just moved, however as a primary teacher in the past, I did not see the need to really go into digital citizenship. Now, more than ever I am discovering just how much children are already using the internet at a young age. Even my youngest child is online with her Leap Pad (of course she has many limitations, but she is still online).

      Also, I completely agree when you said, “Why reinvent the wheel…” I really like to look at many different resources and strategies as a teacher and incorporate them into my own style of teaching. I like to use research based strategies and flare things up a bit with my own passions! You also mentioned finding something kids already enjoy such as Minecraft and integrating into your classroom. This is no easy task, however the rewards are great! One of the “Big Secrets” Dave Burgess shares “is to spend less time trying to get students interested in what you are presenting and more time making connections between what you are presenting and what they are already interested in,” (Teach Like a Pirate, p. 347).


      Burgess, Dave. (2012) Teach Like a Pirate. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. San Diego, CA.

  2. jcrocker2 says:

    I think that collaborative gaming is a great way for students to learn the finer points of being digital citizens. In general, people understand how to work with the group, what the expectations for contributions are, and so on. People that bully, shame, or waste time are not tolerated–they keep the group/team/guild/whatever from accomplishing their goal. Because it is naturally collaborative and goal-oriented, gaming forces students to value efficiency, honesty, positivity, kindness, and dedication to the group. It’s practically a training course for just about any 21st century job! (And some people have gotten jobs because of it: ).

    • Jon, prior to my last semester I would have disagreed that gaming could be so positive and foster collaborative, goal-oriented thinking. Last semester, however, I worked with an outstanding group of educators and students to help create a game that did just that. Even when we were working together as educators to learn how to navigate our game we created using Minecraft, I found that those people who supported me were players that I clung to. Other players, that bullied me (buried me with blocks) were players that I had to hide from. (Of course we were just “playing”. Lee, you know who I am talking about.)

      Thanks for sharing the article. I will be the first to admit that I am terrible at World of Warcraft. When my husband played years ago, I had to watch his character for him while he was away for a few minutes and I couldn’t even successfully move him. I am by no means an avid gamer, still I understand the potential gaming has in the classroom. I love this idea, “But accidental learning transcends intentional training,” (Brown, John & Douglas, Thomas, 2004).


      Brown, John & Douglas, Thomas. (2004). You Play World of Warcraft: Your Hired! Retrieved online from:

      • I know exactly who you are talking about! That was really frustrating! Me too…I enjoyed interacting with those who supported and helped me. When I was buried in blocks or bombed with chickens I got frustrated and yes – wanted to find a safe place to interact. Very good points made!

      • jcrocker2 says:

        Was that Ed Tech Leadership?
        If so, it makes me wish I’d waited another semester to take that course…
        Even so, the uses of gaming brings up another subject: how do you get administrators and parents to buy in to new ed tech ideas and applications? We had a hard enough time getting some parents to be okay with providing our students with school iPods (which seems strange, I know). I can’t imagine trying to get significant buy-in for making gaming a part of the school day.
        We actually started doing something gaming-related during the last quarter of this year. During our elective time, we had kids design their own games using
        After they’d designed their games, they played each others’ games and gave each other revision notes. It was practice for general revision and collaboration, and it was interesting to watch things happen in real time. For example, we had a student working on his game, and a friend on either side of him playing the current version of the game while he was in the editor making revisions on the spot. Then they’d reload and try the new (and slightly modified) version. It was actually kind of crazy…

      • Jon,

        It was EDET 668. I would recommend taking it. You could always ask Lee if she plans on doing something like this again. I think many of us were uncomfortable at the beginning of the class, and we often had discussions about how we would encourage our administrators to embrace new technology. I feel like most administrators are willing to work with you if you provide research to back whatever it is you want to try. Also, including administrators in your classroom seems to help them see how you are using technology effectively.

        I love that you had kids design games. I am going to check this site out. I have heard about “Sploder” but I have never used it. My daughter spent some time working on computer programming this past school year. I will have to ask her which program her class used. Initially, she was not too excited to learn how to program, but as she played around with it some she really seemed to enjoy learning about it.

  3. Thanks for sharing the video, my 3rd grade students love Minecraft! I would love if you shared more about your STEM lesson and how you incorporated Minecraft. What grade were your students? Could it be modified for younger grades?

    As for being “dumber” because of technology, as with anything else, it’s all in moderation. Not only do we need to teach students appropriate uses of technology, but also appropriate times to “unplug” from technology.

    • When I created this STEM lesson I was teaching second grade. However, because our family was in the process of moving during my STEM course I actually did this lesson with a fourth grade student and a sixth grade student. The fourth grader was much more eager to work on the project. Other students in my STEM course worked with second grade students.

      Also, I agree that moderation is the key to avoiding the idea of being “dumber”. I think I was just trying to discuss the cons of technology. It seems our society is heading towards doing everything over the internet, still I feel there is real value in face-to-face contact. No matter how many times I talk with my family over Skype, there is nothing like talking with them or hugging them in person. 🙂

      Here is my ThingLink for my project:

  4. Sara, I agree with your comment about a family gathering without interacting having an impact on the children. I think for years we laid the blame for illiterate students at the feet of television and now we have a new scapegoat technology: Smartphones.
    I know that I grew up in a household rich with printed media. There were books, magazines and newspapers and my parents modeled reading and read to me. Consequently, I excelled at reading. I learned to read in and out of school by reading in and out of school. The access to reading materials and things to read has increased dramatically in the digital age. Everybody (kids and adults) is reading their Facebook posts, text messages, game/music/movie reviews etc and yet we are concerned that the kids aren’t learning what they need. But, as the article linked below indicates, learning starts at home.

    • Michael, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I enjoyed reading the article you shared as well. Learning certainly does begin at home. As the article said, “Parents can encourage reading,” they explain, “by keeping print books in the home, reading themselves, and setting aside time daily for their children to read,” (Shapiro, 2014).
      In my experience my daughters really seem to enjoy reading books. My husband and I both model reading and still make trips to the library as often as we can. I borrow my husband’s Kindle on occasion, but I will be the first to admit that I LOVE the smell of books. Perhaps I just admitted that I am a little odd, but there is just something about physically flipping through the pages of books.
      Thanks for sharing, Michael.


      Shapiro, Jordan. (2014) “Kids Don’t Read Books Because Parents Don’t Read Books. Retrieved online from:

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