If digital natives are those who have grown up in the so-called digital age, remote natives would be those who have done so in an environment where the most common tasks can be done without being present.
In the first instance, “digitals” have been surrounded by technological elements, such as smart phones, tablets and, needless to say, computers since they were born. They use all these tools on a daily basis to perform routine operations. Regardless of the devices themselves, one of the key features is that these individuals have instant access to information. They are not used to waiting; it’s the here and now. What’s going on in the world? I know instantly. Do you want to watch a film or listen to a song of your choice? They’re simply one click away. Do you want to talk to anyone you like, share a photo or find out what your friends are up to? Just log into social media. All this probably makes them less patient, yet more aware of the globality of their environment.
Digital immigrants are those who, despite not being born into that environment, can be considered to have inherited it. That would therefore make us the remote immigrants, because although we didn’t have the option of doing things remotely before, we have now acquired the habit. Hence, remote natives would be those who had that possibility at birth, something that until now seemed unrealistic.
There has long been talk of adults working from home or remotely, and how this potential flexibility can affect our daily routines. The novelty lies with children. Studying from home is becoming more and more common as a result of the pandemic. Online learning, or not having to go to school every day, is making kids so used to telepresence that, as we mentioned when we addressed the troubling subject of COVID-19 Generation, they might find it frustrating to have to leave the family environment. If we combine this circumstance with the possibility of being able to access everything we want, not only from a single device, but also from a single place, behaviour patterns may change. This would not only affect how people will interact with or interpret work spaces in the future, but additionally, how they will shop, travel or have fun.
In the future, these children who haven’t had to “go to class” to study may find it odd to have to go to work, leave home go shopping, and why not, even travel. Elements of virtual or augmented reality, which transport you anywhere from the comfort of your couch and the safety of a familiar environment, already exist. 5G technology, a topic we have already discussed in another article, or the increasingly smaller quantum computers, will offer a degree of realism in telepresence which will undoubtedly change our perception of space and the environment. Our digital avatars will be able to locate us anywhere and at any time.
Picture your baby being connected to a device that makes it possible for the child to be with all his loved ones, be taken care of as soon as he or she wakes up or be in a continuous learning process. The image shows the installation NurturePod, on display at the 2017 exhibition A Temporary Futures Institute held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, in Belgium. The product is designed to aid babies to regulate their sleep cycles while immersing them in a creative and body-conscious world, helping them to develop their social skills earlier in life. Not that this is the Matrix of the future, but it’s frightening to see how fast things are happening and how powerful technology is becoming day by day.