Students brains ‘rewired’ by the internet

BBC2’s The Virtual Revolution on Saturday, February 20th 1 will claim that young people’s brains are being rewired by the Internet in such a way that they are:

  • unable to concentrate on reading an academic book for study
  • incapable of ‘linear’ disciplines like reading and writing at length

The article also states that psychologists claim that ‘within three years, hundreds of thousands of British teenagers will require medication or hospital treatment for mental illnesses caused by excessive web use.’ Sounds a bit like the old arguments about violent video games turning every teenager into a mad-axe killer, TV-watching resulting in square eyes, or masturbation resulting in blindness.

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  1. Telegraph (2011) ‘Students brains ‘rewired’ by the internet’, The Telegraph, (online) Available from: (Accessed 12 February 2011).

Digital Natives Digital Learners?

In 2001, Prensky 1 first postulated the concept of the ‘digital native’ – the generation who have grown up with technology to the extent that it is embedded into their lives and even proposed that their brains were different.  He argued that teaching and learning needed to change to meet the new expectations, needs and demands of this generation. Although interesting the proposal was not supported by an evidential base.

Kennedy et al 2 research into university study and the ‘digital native’ generation found that ‘assume that being a member of the ‘Net Generation’ is synonymous with knowing how to employ technology based tools strategically to optimise learning experiences.’

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  1. Prensky, M. (2001) ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’, On the Horizon, 9(5), (online) Available from:,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf (Accessed 30 January 2011).
  2. Kennedy, G. E., Judd, T. S., Churchward, A., Gray, K. and Krause, K. (2008) ‘First year students’ experiences with technology: Are they really digital natives?’, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24(1), pp. 108-122, (online) Available from: (Accessed 12 February 2011).

Google Generation and Myths

There are a number of statements bandied around the Internet about the Google Generation. Some of these include:

  1. ‘They [the Google Generation] need to feel constantly connected to the web’
  2. ‘They are the “cut-and-paste” generation’
  3. ‘They pick up computer skills by trial and error’
  4. ‘They are expert searchers’

Research has shed some light onto these statements. A report from UCL  1  p19 suggests that of these statements:

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  1. UCL (2008) Information behaviour of the researcher of the future, University College London, (online) Available from: (Accessed 6 February 2011).