Digital Native’s

Over at there is an article that includes:


“These kids are saying: forget it! I don’t want to work with you. I don’t want to work at a place where I can’t be freely online during the day,” said Anne Kirah, Microsoft Senior Design Anthropologist.
“People that I meet are saying this to me every day, all over the world.”
Kirah made the comments during the keynote at the opening of Microsoft’s annual developer love-in, Tech.Ed, in Sydney.
“Companies all over the world are saying, oh, you can’t be on the internet while you’re at work. You can’t be on instant messaging at work…” she said. “These are digital immigrant ideas.”
Kirah defines ‘digital immigrants’ as people who were not born into the digital lifestyle and view it as a distraction rather than an integral part of life. The younger generation of workers have been using computers and mobile phones since birth and she calls them ‘digital natives’.


I know this is important – and I know big companies will eventually get it – some sooner than others.  But forgetting the problem with attractive employees, and focusing just on the Digital Native/Digital Immigrants aspect –

This is a very interesting concept for several reasons:

The workplace will have to change to accommodate this new Digital Native – how can someone profit off of that?

Recruiter, HR people, IT people will all have to be able to bend and cater to this new generation, yet maintain data security.  Who can take advantage of the coming need for secure networks that also allow “like-home” access to the Internet?

If you are a new recruiter, IT manager, or HR representative – what can you do now to help you position yourself to take advantage of the inevitable change?

We’re entering an exciting time of change in the workplace… where we work, how we work, how repressive the companies we work for are… and it’s all because we have a generation of people that are basically starting to say, “No, that’s stupid.  I don’t care if you’ve always done it that way or if it’s just the rule – it’s stupid, and if you insist on it, I’ll go work somewhere else.  Oh, and of course I’ll blog about what a tight-ass old-school company this is”. 

Yeah – this should be fun, because I know too many old-school recruiters, IT people, HR’s and manager’s that will refuse to accept any change, even as they are forced into less meaningful positions because they were unable to yield to the inevitable.  Those that not only yield, but embrace the change will do very well.


  1. Ap0kalipSe says:

    It’s totally unrealistic that anyone could provide totally unfiltered internet access in the workplace, given todays virus and malware infested landscape. Plus you have legal resposabilties to prevent employee’s from trying to access certain content in the workplace, such as porn etc. Things like that cannot be left to a company policy.

    There also may well be cases where IM is good for business communications, but in our company where everyone works within 50m of each other there’s no reason for anyone to use IM at work, except to contact friends in the outside world. Given the security risks associated with IM, and the use of freely accessable webmail we restrict such categories and apps from the users. When people are at work they are here to work, not spend all day surfing the net ebaying or myspacing, and i’d be highly surprised to find many comapnies that would. This isn’t repression of the digital age and these digital natives, of which I would class myself as one, it’s common sense. When I’m at work, I know that i’m meant to be doing my job, not browsing the latest updates to or chatting away on msn to my mates.

    if there was the option o possibly allow the use of msn in the lunch hours then it might get a look in, but everyone has a desk phone, we do provide them with email which they are allowed to use for personal use, what more do they need? unrestricted internet access is a big no no.

  2. Paul Claessen Coul;dnt agree with you more. In this day and age its as simple as iding the problem website, I.e. MYSPACE. Lets face it MYSPACE has nothin gto do mwith work. I agree Iming should be locked down but I have certain employees who use it to talk with Vendors in china. so I simple lock out local machine from acces this.


    your assement of this situation is wrong. there are certain website sites people need to acees and others that are just not work related, ie MYSPACE. Companys will not tolerate this extra expeince. Which is two fold, 1) wasted worker hours. 2) wasted IT hours on iding Potenel threats, i.e MYSPACE virues. Time to clean or even reinstall the operating system.

  3. I don’t think I fully follow the argument or understand what this is all about, but I think the basic premise here is: with freedom comes abuse of it.

    Allowing Internet access during work hours? I couldn’t do my job without it, or at least not as efficient, and I DO refer to basic things as surfing (google) and instant messaging. (Email is obvious). But of course there WILL be folks who will be playing online games, visit por.. err .. non-work related sites, and chat in their mud-rooms .. all day long. So, here you have it: Internet access can greatly improve productivity, but some people WILL abuse it. It’s all about finding the right balance (disallowing internet access in order to cut out that one freeloader can in fact LOWER your overall productivity)

    This is nothing new.

    Take flexible work hours for instance, where NO checks on arrival-leaving times are being made. Most people will work LONGER than the usual 8 hours in such situations, but there will always be folks who come in at 10am and leave at 4pm.

    It’s all about human nature. ‘s Got nothing to do with allowing Internet access or not.
    And I don’t buy that digital immigrants/natives distinction AT ALL. These differences are at a personal (character) basis and not artificial-group based.

  4. Tom,

    It’s obvious we disagree on this – but I think we are working off of different assumptions:

    I assume that high-skilled workers will become more and more scarce, therefore more and more desirable.

    I assume businesses will want to attract the highest quality employees.

    I assume IT workers will realize they are NOT my phone company – they work _for me_. I assume technology will change quickly enough that you can have your “security” and enable freedom – both at the same time.

    And that means I assume that things as we know them will change – and it appears you think they won’t.

    I sure hope *I* am right.


  5. WRONG!!!!

    These young people will need to learn that the computer they use at work are for COMPANY USE. They are not yourpersonal computer. These kids are just pissed they cant go to MYSPACE> Im a 27 yr old Network admin, and these kids will just do what u say if u TAKE IT AWAY. In end companys will not hire KIDS that want to spend the day IMing and surfingMYSPACE. If you think this is an old SKOOL approach. EEEEHHH wrong again, Company willnot tolerate this type of behavior and further just wont hire these KIDS. So its really up to them … And if taking a away a cell hpone from a teenage girl is next to child abuse..,…. Please shoot me now, I dont want to live in THAT world


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