Thursday, 22 March 2012

Digital Identities

Since the dawn of the 21st century, America along with the rest of the developed world has well and truly entered a digital age. This has been helped with the creation of social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and Youtube to name just a few. Whilst Myspace may now be considered to be a thing of the past Facebook and Youtube are still very much incorporated into the every day lives of those classed with the identity of 'Digital Native'.
The concept of 'Digital Native' has been used by academics such as Marc Prensky. Presnsky who has written an article entitled 'Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants' has looked at the impact of what digital technology has had and will have on the education system. The principle issue here is how are teachers (digital immigrants) supposed to educate students (digital natives), when the students are more advanced in their understanding of the technology that they are using 'the single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language, are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language' (Prensky, 2001). Here Prensky has mentioned language which is something that helps define our identities. The digital language is not limited to one country but is worldwide. Digital language is only foreign to the digital immigrants who fail or struggle to adapt to this digital technology. To overcome this barrier in education, teachers who are digital immigrants need to be more open minded and forward thinking, in order to effectively teach and captivate a generation that has taken on a digital identity.
Social networking sites such as Facebook originated in America, so it could be said that America is leading the way in digital identities. Our online identities are all controlled by those writing them and decided by ourselves. We have complete control over what information about ourselves we put online, and it can even be made up. People only see what we want them to see.
Could our digital identity be affecting our real life identity? An article which I found on the Guardian called 'Facebook's 'dark side': study finds link to socially aggressive narcissism' (an article I found coincidentally via facebook) looks at a link between social media and networking sites and how it is impacting the way we behave in real life. In regards to digital identity 'Facebook provides a platform for people to self-promote', this supports the idea that digital identity is what we create. The idea of a digital identity can seem appealing as we have full control over it whereas we have no control over where we are born or who our parents are, which are the more traditional definers for identity. What this article suggests is that since we can control who we are digitally we are becoming vainer in real and more self obsessed. How we look and come across to others online is becoming more important. This would suggest that digital identities are more important than real life identities such as ethnicity to those of the digital native generation.

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