The digital divide: conveying subtlety in online communication
- 2 Downloads
In this study, we tested the idea that people born after online technology became a part of daily life (“digital natives”) interpret online communication differently when compared with those born before the Internet age (“digital immigrants”). Specifically, across two experiments, 213 participants recruited from a crowdsourcing site were presented with 16 text messages that either included or did not include a line break or a period, in a fully crossed 2 × 2 design. Both immigrants and natives rated the messages on an affect scale and indicated their confidence in their rating. In a third experiment, 72 participants produced responses to 16 text message prompts each, and these responses were coded for line breaks and periods to test whether production of these cues varies between natives and immigrants. The results suggest that immigrants and natives are alike in how they interpret messages, but that natives are more sensitive to minor linguistic cues, especially the use or nonuse of a period in a text message, considering this cue to carry more negative affect than immigrants do. This suggests that, even in cases in which immigrants make use of the same communication technology to the same extent as natives, they still have a digital “accent,” and fail to make subtle distinctions that are meaningful to natives. We further discuss how such subtle differences could impact online classroom communication, particularly between students of different generations and between the students and the teacher. As texting becomes increasingly used as a classroom management or communication tool, older students and faculty must be sensitive to the fact that younger students may consider the use of periods to signal negative affect and may respond differently to such messages than intended by the writer. We issue a call for more research exploring how the use of technology, and even subtle cues, may impact classroom dynamics, particularly in classrooms made up of mixed age groups.
KeywordsDigital divide Texting Computer-mediated communication
- Ajman, H., & Hartshorne, R. (2008). Investigating faculty decisions to adopt Web 2.0 technologies: Theory and empirical tests. The Internet and Higher Education, 11, 71–80. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2008.05.002.
- Baron, N. (2010). Always on: Language in an online and mobile world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Bauerlein, M. (2008). The dumbest generation: How the digital age stupefies young Americans and jeopardizes our future (or, don’t trust anyone under 30). London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- Carr, N. (2008, July/August). Is Google making us stupid? The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/.
- Carr, N. (2010). The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
- Criar, B. (2013, November). The period is pissed: When did our plainest punctuation mark become so aggressive? The New Republic. Retrieved July 10, 2015, from http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115726/period-our-simplest-punctuation-mark-has-become-sign-anger.
- Crystal, D. (2008). Txtng: The gr8 db8. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 28, 7–12.Google Scholar
- Demirbilek, M. (2014). The ‘digital natives’ debate: An investigation of the digital propensities of university students. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 10, 115–123.Google Scholar
- Fortunati, L., Taipale, S., & de Luca, F. (2017). Digital generations, but not as we know them. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 1–18.Google Scholar
- Grosseck, G., & Holotescu, C. (2008). Can we use Twitter for educational activities? Paper presented at the 4th International Scientific Conference for eLearning and Software for Education, Bucharest.Google Scholar
- Hackforth, R. (translator). (1952). Plato’s Phaedrus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- International Telecommunication Union. (2013). Measuring the world’s digital natives. In Measuring the information society: 2013 (pp. 127–158). Geneva: International Telecommunication Union.Google Scholar
- Jones, C., & Shao, B. (2011). The net generation and digital natives: Implications for higher education. York: Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
- Junco, R., Heiberger, G., & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27, 119–132. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00387.x.
- Kennedy, G. E., Judd, T. S., Churchward, A., Gray, K., & Krause, K. (2008). First year students’ experiences with technology: Are they really digital natives? Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 24, 108–122.Google Scholar
- Kovaz, D., Wilson, J. D., Rogers, J. W., Dahlke, L. A., Black, R. K., Sable, J. J., & Kreuz, R. J. (2015, November). Are you laughing when you lol?: Examining emotion in texting shortcuts using event-related potentials. Poster presented at the 56th annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Chicago.Google Scholar
- Kreuz, R., & Roberts, R. (2017). Getting through: The pleasures and perils of cross-cultural communication. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Laverne, L. (2014). Born before 1985? Then you’re a ‘digital immigrant.’ The Guardian. Retrieved July 10, 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/16/born-before-1985-digital-immigrant-lauren-laverne.
- McCarthy, J. (2010). Blended learning environments: Using social networking sites to enhance the first year experience. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26, 729–740.Google Scholar
- Lugano, G., & Peltonen, P. (2012). Building intergenerational bridges between digital natives and digital immigrants: Attitudes, motivations and appreciation for old and new media. In E. Loos, L. Haddon, & E. Mante-Meijer (Eds.), Generational use of new media (pp. 151–170). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Moran, M., Seaman, J., & Tinti-Kane, H. (2011). Teaching, learning, and sharing: How today’s higher education faculty use social media. Babson Survey Research Group. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED535130.pdf.
- National Center of Education Statistics (2014). Characteristics of postsecondary students [Data file]. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_csb.asp.
- Negroponte, N. (1995). Being digital. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
- Oblinger, D. (2003). Boomers, gen-Xers and millennials: Understanding the new students. EDUCAUSE Review, 38, 37–47.Google Scholar
- Oblinger, D. G., & Oblinger, J. L. (2005). Educating the net generation. Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE.Google Scholar
- Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2008). Born digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2011). Reclaiming an awkward term: What we might learn from “Digital Natives”. Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, 7, 33–55.Google Scholar
- Pasek, J., More, E., & Hargittai, E. (2009). Facebook and academic performance: Reconciling a media sensation with data. First Monday, 14(5). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2498/2181.
- Pew Research Center. (2011). The digital revolution and higher education. Retrieved March 2017 from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/08/28/the-digital-revolution-and-higher-education/.
- Prensky, M. (2004). The emerging online life of the digital native: What they do differently because of technology, and how they do it. Retrieved July 10, 2015, from http://marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky-The_Emerging_Online_Life_of_the_Digital_Native-03.pdf.
- Riordan, M. A. (2016). Appear happier: Text with emojis. Presentation at the 57th annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
- Riordan, M. A., & Kreuz, R. J. (2010). Emotion encoding and interpretation in computer-mediated communication: Reasons for use. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 1667–1673. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.06.015.
- Smith, E. E. The digital native debate in higher education: A comparative analysis of recent literature (2012). Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 38(3).Google Scholar