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Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,299 ratings  ·  130 reviews
"The first generation of "Digital Natives" - children who were born into and raised in the digital world - are coming of age, and soon our world will be reshaped in their image. Our economy, our politics, our culture, and even the structure of our family life will be forever transformed." "Based on extensive original research, including interviews with Digital Natives arou ...more
Hardcover, 375 pages
Published August 26th 2008 by Basic Books (AZ) (first published August 5th 2008)
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3.60  · 
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 ·  1,299 ratings  ·  130 reviews

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Jan 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing

“Like we teach our kids to wear a helmet when riding a bike, or not to get into a car with a stranger, or to call us anytime they face a problem while away from home, we can also ask them to follow rules and respect certain norms while surfing the Web or making connections online.” (281) Kids can be taught how to use the internet safely! As evidenced in this quote, danger lurks everywhere. As parents and educators, it is our job to alert children to potential dangers and how to cope with
Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
I didn't get through this. I found it to be very dry, which was strange considering how much interest this topic holds for me. I think my issue lays in the fact that the book was written for an audience that's older than I am and really not engaged with the online world at all. So, a lot of what was covered was stuff that was nothing new to me, because I am interested in this stuff and use it myself. But even the intro chapter about how kids born now will have all kinds of digital flotsam & ...more
Jun 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
Since someone asked if the book were really worth only two stars, I decided to post my thoughts.

I didn't even bother finishing this; I flipped through the last section quickly because I needed to turn it back in at the library. I felt like the book was rushed into publication and needed more editing. For example, education reformer John Dewey ( was credited with the invention of Melvil Dewey's ( library classificat
Oct 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult, non-fiction
Melvil Dewey formulated Dewey Decimal Classification. Not John. Melvil. Lost a star just for that failure to fact-check. Now, sorry, everything these authors say is suspect.
Other than that, this book was not as compelling as I'd hoped. The first few chapters seemed slow and plodding, but then I got to a couple I was really interested in, and I was able to engage a little more.
So I'm thinking that Born Digital is a book that need not be read cover to cover. Just pick out your particular interest
Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Courtney Lynch
ITS 650
27 June 2011

Book Chat

Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives
John Palfrey and Urs Gasser

There are two main passages that stood out the most for me in Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. The first occurs in the introduction to the book:

“There is one thing you know for sure: These kids are different. They study, work, write, and interact with each other in ways that are very different form the ways that you did growi
Nov 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents and teachers of digital natives
Recommended to Chris by: professor
Born Digital is a phenomenal book written to educate digital immigrant parents and teachers about their digital native children and students. The book, written in independent chapters, takes the reader down a road that not all have traveled and shows the reader the world through a digital native’s perspective. Two concepts within the book stood out most for me. The first was the concept of creating an identity of self in the digital age. As the book states, “…identity formation among digital nat ...more
Jan 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'm sorry. I take offense when a book is not well-written or well-crafted but still released into the world for people to purchase at the tune of $25 a pop. This book contains an overwhelming amount of repetition, and if that isn't enough, each time a topic is repeated it is "reintroduced" as if I the authors did not spend several previous paragraphs telling me exactly the same thing, albeit using a slightly different combination of words. Sure it has good facts and some interesting points, but ...more
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There is no question that today's young people are in a world that is very different from those of us from previous generations. They don't remember a world without cell phones, computers, and the Internet. This ability to be constantly connected has changed the way they view the world and the way they operate in it. It also provides them with so many different opportunities and dangers that they need to be prepared for if they are going to be successful.

Palfrey and Gasser take a look at the var
May 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
I was hoping to get some insight and information about working with students who are part of the Digital Native generation from this book. It was a real struggle to get through this book, which seemed repetitive and rather dry. I almost stopped reading when I was about two-thirds of the way through the book and read about "John Dewey and his famous decimal system". It seems that somewhere in the editing process of this book, someone would have pointed out that John Dewey was an educational refor ...more
Jul 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Overall, Born Digital should be required reading for anyone born before 1985 who has a management or teaching position that deals with the after-1985 set. The authors provide a very good overview of the perspectives the digital generation have and the kinds of issues that their world is going to create, or is creating, as it intersects with and supercedes the pre-digital world. At times the authors use a pretty broad brush and/or a superficial analysis of what's going on, making some of their co ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: it
Very dry to read..... glad I bought this 2nd hand from Amazon as opposed to the full price. Geared up to the parent who has kids plugged into the internet continually, and parents who are worried about the risks etc.

After reading it I am struggling to find anything that I didn't already know.... very boring to read, and is unlikely to encourage a person to read it to completion. Glad I bought it 2nd hand....
Sep 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
certainly written by academics, and already tremendously out of date.
Gabrielle Stadlen
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Throughout history, the human population has been known to fear the unknown. The lives of Digital Natives are unfamiliar to the majority of the population. No Digital Native has ever progressed from birth to childhood to adulthood to death; hence the fear surrounding this generation. Digital Natives are categorized as people born after 1980 that have grown up with access to networked digital technologies. Digital Immigrants and Digital Settlers are placed on the other end of the spectrum. They a ...more
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Digital Natives wird die Generation der nach 1980 Geborenen genannt, für die Internet, Mobiltelefone und MP3-Player seit ihrer Kindheit selbstverständlich waren. Digitial Natives bilden über Ländergrenzen hinweg vernetzte Eliten; sie lernen neue Freunde häufig zuerst online und erst anschließend persönlich kennen. Digital Immigrants haben erst spät Zugang zu neuen Technologien gefunden und müssen sich Kompetenzen im Gegensatz zu den Natives erst Schritt für Schritt aneignen. Palfrey und Gassner ...more
Giovanni Dall'Orto
Questo libro parte dalla constatazione che, calcolo delle date alla mano, è ormai arrivata alla maggiore età la prima generazione nata quando esisteva già la Rete, e che quindi non riesce a pensare a nessun momento della sua vita in cui la Rete col suo caldo abbraccio non ci fosse.
Il mio pensiero corre a quando io, piccolino, ero nato con la TV e il telefono in casa, mentre giravano ancora vecchiette che "il telefono no, uh, mi fa paura", e molti - magari profetici - vedevano nella tv solo il Di
Mukit-Ul Islam
This books provides evidence based information from the perspective of individuals who are relatively new to the era of the digital landscape.

It is an excellent holistic read that talks about various challenges, issues about the internet as well as the feats and it's role in reshaping the world we know today.

For parents and teachers who are looking for practical approaches in dealing with various issues such as privacy, safety and understanding this new global phenomena, the book provides a go
Some interesting aspects to ponder regarding digital users that are still relevant today. However, many of the points are redundant and fresh observations and arguments seem to be lacking in this updated edition.
Gary Bourke
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good. Especially enjoyed the 'Identity' and 'Learners' sections. Many valuable questions asked.
Marcos d Ornellas
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Outdated. It should be read in 2007 and not in 2017.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
"Born Digital" has some decent insight but as a 2008 publication it's grossly outdated.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
It was a little boring for me, because I know quite a lot about the topics found in this book. But it seems like it is a good read for people that are not very tech savvy but want to learn about the effects of technology on young people lives, for example for teachers, parents.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
The content was interesting, the writing wasn't great. It became a little repetitive, certain chapters probably could have been combined and shortened.
Oct 18, 2010 rated it liked it
This book is aimed to reach parents, teachers, and others who work with digital natives. I agree with previous reviewers. The authors include much research; however, there are not as many practical strategies for parents and teachers as I had expected. The authors do touch on having conversations with your children, modeling good internet use, and the debate over monitoring children's internet use. The authors call out technology companies and their responsibilities in technology design and help ...more
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have an eight year old who can navigate the web better than her dad, has installed aps on my iPod sans adult supervision nor permission, and has enough wherewithal to use the search feature of said device in a quest for “free games for eight year old girls.” To call this kid a digital native would be an understatement. So when the opportunity presented itself to read a book about the world that my kid is, and will be, navigating through for the rest of her life, I jumped on it.

John Palfrey and
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Carrie by: Alex Shaurette
Shelves: adult, nonfiction
Palfrey and Urs have raised some important questions about the generation now growing up in the digital age. Many young people today are unaware of important concerns such as privacy, safety, and internet piracy. Although it is pointed out that some problems such as bullying and stalking have always been around, they now just have a new platform. Young people today need knowledgeable adults to communicate with them about some of these issues, so it is important for particularly parents and teach ...more
Jul 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: reading-list
Good book. I've got some issues with the category "Digital Native" as it's often overzealously applied in edtech circles. Palfrey & Gasser usually (though not always) avoid making broad generalizations about an entire generation of people, remembering (or reminding the reader) that any Digital Natives that do exist are a subset, a population, not a whole generation. A large part of this book is about the information that's collected about them or the information they're exposed to, rather th ...more
Sep 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
It's an interesting following of both the internet, so called "Digital Natives" (defined as those born after 1980), and the interactions "Digital Natives" have with the internet and other technology, from an outsider's perspective.

The authors raise some interesting points, including that they believe privacy of "Digital Natives" to be of a greater concern (due to the tendency of "Digital Natives" to disclose personally identifying information on the internet) than of safety.

They also address the
Feb 16, 2009 rated it liked it
This was an informative, well-researched book. As a "non-native," I have developed a strong interest in the grand possibilities of ever-changing, ever-expanding technology. At the same time, I've had to battle strong fears (what if my mp3 gets smaller and vaporizes in my pocket, or--worse yet--ends up in the washing machine?), and listen to the tech naysayers who are still hoping it's just a fad, and they don't wish to deal with it right now. In my educational profession, I don't believe we can ...more
Feb 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Characteristics of the first generation to grow up online

Many kids under the age of 15 have no idea what a typewriter is. Why would they be familiar with such an outmoded, archaic tool? They are members of “the first generation of digital natives.” Internet and law experts John Palfrey and Urs Gasser offer an accessible, informed and concerned investigation into cyberculture. Although they often indulge in platitudes and generalizations, they bring a new, useful focus to the discussion. They del
Beth K
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2009
So it states in the description of this book that it's for parents and teachers who want to learn more about the digital realms that their kids spend so much time in. However I can't imagine the average parent sitting through this book without quickly losing interest and falling asleep. (i certainly am one of those parents despite being digitally savvy and highly interested in the topic)
This book is such a high level overview of things that can happen in the online world. Additionally it's so sc
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See also: John Gorham Palfrey

John Palfrey is Head of School at Phillips Andover Academy. Palfrey led the effort to reorganize the Harvard Law School Library, and is the founding chairman of the Digital Public Library of America. The author of several books including Born Digital, Palfrey lives in Andover, Massachusetts.