Final Major Project: Introduction

Formulating a research question, Literature review & Proposal.

Formulating a research question, Literature review & Proposal.

Prior to joining the MA of Interaction Design Communication, one of the requirements was to write a proposal for what I would like to pursue. My Proposal stated that I was interested in Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants and how I could use interaction design to appeal for both of them.

Several months later my interests still lay in the two groups of people and I am excited to pursue this topic with interaction design in mind. So what do I know so far?


A digital native is a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and therefore familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age whereas a digital immigrant is born or brought up prior to the widespread use of digital technology, a singularity that resulted in a remarkable difference between the two; in thought, process and response to certain situations.

For example, many digital natives can study and learn successfully while watching TV or listening to music but their predecessors may be less likely to, as they were not exposed to environments that would enable them to practice
the particular skill of multitasking.

A study carried out by E. Helpser and R. Enyon from the London School of Economics and Politics supports this statement showing that digital natives between the ages of 14 and 17 had a multitasking rate of 87% whereas participants aged 45-65 only scored 51.5%. These results show that there is in fact a remarkable difference between the two in their approach to different tasks in their day-to-day life.

As stated by Marc Prensky “The ‘digital immigrant accent’ can be seen in such things as turning to the Internet for information second rather than first”. The same study shows that 80% of the time digital natives refer to the Internet as a first source of information whereas digital immigrants only refer to the Internet 54% of the time, thus limiting their efficiency. However, one may observe that Prensky’s comments seem to be accurate only in certain economic situations. In Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDC), the classification of a digital native or a digital immigrant is independent of the period of time they were born. For example, a Kenyan born in the rural areas during the digital age will not likely be exposed to computers, digital technology or the Internet and in turn, spend their formative years learning and experiencing life in a similar manner to that of a digital immigrant. In fact it is only when migration to an urban area occurs that exposure to technology is met and the subject is forced to adapt to the existing systems that are heavily reliant on technology. Consequently, in LEDC countries the divide comes not from the period one was born in but rather the environment they were exposed to.

So based on this knowledge here are a few of the research questions I formulated (not a chronological order):

– How can Interaction Design bridge the gap between Digital natives and digital Immigrants?
– Is the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants problematic and if so is interaction design the solution?
– what is interaction design to the digital world ?
– Are the definitions of the two tribes likely to change or remain the same ?
– Will digital immigrants phase out or will the rise in technology always place a group of people as such?


References So far:

Helsper, E. (2009). Digital natives: where is the evidence? . Retrieved from LSE Research
Joy, O. (2012, December 8). What does it mean to be a digital native? Retrieved from
Prensky, M. (2001, october). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved from,%20Digital
Zur, A. W. (2011). On Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives: How the Digital Divide
Affects Families, Educational Institutions, and the Workplace. Retrieved from Zur