Calling smartphone equipped teenagers 'digital natives' is a mistake because a smartphone makes you a consumer rather than a native of anything.

If you want a child to become a digital native give them an actual computer instead of a corporate controlled and curated consumer device.

@sindastra at this point I'd settle with them knowing how to move a file into an external drive.

@sindastra @polychrome
Smartphones and tablets are so dumbed down that kids don't know how to do basic things like moving/saving files.
See this Apple ad:

@koto @sindastra that ad makes me sad because the kid is using a computer without the freedom of a computer, therefor it's not a computer. 🤷

@polychrome @koto Look up Windows 10 S then. It will make you sad. Turns a real computer into a locked down app-store-only-apps computer. 🤷‍♀️

@koto @sindastra @polychrome i wouldn't really say "dumbed down" so much as actively user-hostile, locked down and imprisoning

damn things take a genius to figure out how to transfer files where the same action on a pc would be straightforward

@carcinopithecus @koto @sindastra @polychrome Agreed, though usually I transfer files from a phone/tablet by plugging it into a computer and using the file manager there. If not, it's usually by a Bluetooth file transfer from the phone to the computer (for <=5 files).

@koto @sindastra @polychrome This is some creepy dystopian shit. It's pretty sickening how they're selling ignorance as something positive.

@koto @sindastra @polychrome

- Hey! What you doin' with your brain?

- What's a brain?

@polychrome @sindastra I have an android phone which makes that task easier than an iPhone and it still is awful. Only a particular program on my computer works. At least I can use an SD card though.

@polychrome I think this is confusing infrastructure with environment to an extent. It’s entirely possible to be very good at navigating and using online services without being able to write software, and vice versa.

@ghost_bird oh I wasn't really considering writing software - it was more like the way the device either locked or nudging you to install only approved software from the corporation's software repository, and your communications go through corporation owned and curated communication platforms with profit incentives.

On an actual computer you have the possibility to.. well, not end up like that.

@polychrome Still two distinct skill sets though, I think - one’s primarily social and one’s primarily technical. It would be good for people to have more easy opportunities to get technical if they want to, of course, but it’s a separate hobby not a casual/hardcore distinction.

@polychrome (Disclaimer: I seem to be unusual in that I work in IT but don’t particularly enjoy tinkering in my free time, so I have a slightly different perspective on this.)

@ghost_bird @polychrome from what i've seen critical thinking and lateral thinking haven't gotten worse, but it does seem like each generation of "computer users" is more and more alienated from how you get from the ones and zeroes and timed electrical signal resistances to interactive moving pictures on a screen.

(saying this as a millennial who's tried to write games since age 12, got klik 'n' play and then didn't know how bitmasks worked until his mid 30s)

@polychrome and learn CS unplugged, no need to actually start with a computer

@polychrome I heard this at a french hacker conference "if you are talking about how dumb youngsters are, you are already too old."

I totaly get how disturbing it is to see the teens embracing the "geek culture" without being part of it on the practical level. But remember, at the time, tech afficionados were a minority. They still are.

@otyugh in that case I was already too old since I was 14. :thonking:

(missing CW) Terran horribleness, capitalism 

@polychrome A desktop or laptop running a Linux distro or BSD, then, yes?

(missing CW) Terran horribleness, capitalism 

@polychrome Also, can we work on making smartphones /not/ this way?

re: (missing CW) Terran horribleness, capitalism 

@moonbolt the Pinephone looks like a good start.

@polychrome My 8-year old is completely obsessed with their Raspberry Pi. It's annoying but great

@polychrome I think smartphones actually serve the opposite effect, "digital native" means just that they somewhat know how to get around the device they're using everyday, all-day.

I suggested something similar recently and was told something along the lines of "Oh! you would be surprised what the kids these days are capable of with phones"

I wonder if people see kids being super-fast at participating in the consumer/consumed phone game and think wow. So "native".

Maybe, there might be something to be said for say, creative video production using only a smart phone. or anything really that can happen in Airplane Mode?

@polychrome digital native, at least as the phrase was coined, means someone has not experienced a lack of digital technology. Because present experience is always changing native ends up being a meaningless designation. Perhaps “handheld limited” would be what you mean.

@polychrome Just giving them a device won't do much IMHO. As things are, they'll probably just use it as a Steam/Discord/Chrome bootloader.

@polychrome Maybe if kids were given a CD installer of Linux and a blank laptop and some hints to figure things out... hmm.

Ykno, I wanna have a distro that has a tutorial like those old "congratulations on your purchase of new machine, here is how to use it and how it works" books, but digitally.
Something that gets your weird uncle rolling with Firefox and text editing after an hour, but has enough in depth material for your cool grandma to program Pong or a small text database.

@polychrome I think this might be conflating levels.

I’m a “native” of the world of compilers & command lines. Been part of my life forever.

But completely I’m lost when it comes to understanding the corp silos and how to behave on them. That’s what they mean when they say “native”.

I’m not disputing that becoming a native of that world can be a bad thing. Your analysis is spot on there. Just saying that the semantics are just semantics.


Yes a hundred times over. Been thinking about this in the background a lot, and hadn't found words for it.

@deejoe @polychrome

As much as I agree with the sentiment, I try to find terms that won't put a person I'm trying to educate on defense. Once people who are being used by a system feel called out, they stop listening and considering options other than their default reality.



I'd settle for however we can deconstruct "digital native" in a way that reveals the exploitative system for which it carries water.



The other thing that came to mind is: "They call these things 'smart' because that's how the people who design them feel when they convince you not just to accept being tracked and manipulated by them, but to pay for it, too."

That also isn't flattering to the marks, though. I'm not sure how much scope there is for telling someone bad news but making them feel good to hear it?


@deejoe @polychrome

I often assume they call these nefarious devices smart because their ultimate goal is to hypnotize their users into an unthinking stupor.

@RussSharek @deejoe @polychrome i like the invitation to an alternative solution. like not bullying whatsapp users, and instead invite them to use my shared matrix server for example. like to argument in improv theater. its connecting with the other person with "and" ...


make a connection? yes

offer a path? maybe, but now maybe we're recapitulating the problematic consumerist framing.

my connection point is that we're all in this together, it's not their fault, certainly not at the level of, say, having chosen the wrong brand of fabric softener and it'll be fixed by picking a different one.

it's systemic.

@polychrome @RussSharek

@deejoe @stereo @polychrome


The blame is on companies, not people who want to stay connected to their loved ones.

The network effect is a hack on human tribal survival systems, which is why people react so strongly to the concept of leaving those virtual spaces.

Evolutionary process never considered what happens when the lions own the cave in which you're taking refuge.

@stereo @polychrome @deejoe

Yes, and that collaborative spirit sets a more productive tone for fostering change.


Also dont victim blame young kids for growing up and doing what is natural in the *environment they were raised in* tho (which I see a little bit of in this thread). Children are perceptive, they pick up on how parents are obsessed with their phones from a young age and how when they are pretending to pay attention to them they are still sucked into their phones.


Also I question whether kids need to know how technology actually works mechanically. Some do of course, but the majority? That is missing the whole idea of technology.

Kids need to be universally educated on how technology POLITICALLY works. Not every kid needs to learn how to code, that is an absurd and shallow notion. Also, who actually understands how a smartphone works from top to bottom???


I also question whether kids appearing to need instant gratification, not having long attention spans and needing constant stimulation to focus something is really a function of technology ruining their brains vs the environment they are being raised in putting them under so much stress and anxiety that this kind of engagement is the only kind they have the mental health for.


How much more hw do kids get these days? How much less play time? What world do they see that they can look forward to inheriting from their parents when they look up from their smartphones?

I mean have you walked through a suburb and really looked at how horrifying and hostile to the nature of a child's desire to explore and grow and connect with others it is? And if a child isn't lucky to live in the hellscape of suburb than they probably live in constant economic precariousness.


Which isnt to say that smartphones designed to be addictive drugs doesn't harm children but it all needs to be put into context


I didn't know what the Camazotz where but in looking them up it has become apparent that the Northern European/viking metal aesthetic is milquetoast compared to how metal Mesoamerican culture is.


@polychrome Robert Landley has an interesting counterargument.

> Looking at the previous generation as a "real computer" and the new one as "just a toy" is a common stage.

> Microsoft's Altair BASIC was cross-assembled from a PDP-10. Ken and Dennis cross-assembled the first UNIX on a GE 645 mainframe. [...] Meanwhile the new kids come up to speed on the hardware in front of them, and consider it a thing in itself rather than an extension of something else. I'm trying to allow serious programming to be done natively on a phone.

And about UI...

> Minicomputers didn't start with improved UI [...] I doubt your average 12 year old will find an onscreen keyboard "too small and cramped" if that's what they grew up with, and the UI should naturally evolve in response to what people are doing with it.

Read more here:

The first part is reasonable, but I can't agree with his opinions on UI, like another pointed out:

> They certainly do - children are not some kind of alien species.

@niconiconi the post you're answering to is a year old but generally it's about accessibility to controlling your own hardware over the generation of technology and optional obfuscation.

The current obfuscation is not optional. All of the previous computers enabled you to have control over the software and hardware. The modern era is about restriction and walled gardens, consumers VS users.

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