Six reasons to be skeptical of the Net Gen discourse:
1. It exaggerates the gaps between adults and youth.
According to Henry Jenkins, adults are "seen as fumbling and hopelessly out of touch, and youth, seen as masterful". This encourages adults to feel helpless, and justifies "their decision not to know and not to care what happens to young people as they move into the on-line world." Ultimately it disempowers adults.
2. It hides more important intra-generational differences.
According to Reeves & Oh, research shows that "generational differences are weak as a researchable variable. " It also shows that differences in how learners use technology is often greater within an age cohort than it is between and that treating net generation learners as a homogeneous groups ignores these important differences. See Pedro (2009) and Kennedy et al. (2007) and (2008).
3. It ignores potentially important socio-economic and cultural differences.
Almost of all the claims about the net generation are based on observations of middle and upper class north American youth.
4. It ignores important second level digital divides.
By promoting the stereotype that all youth are sophisticated users of digital technology, the net gen discourse overlooks the inequalities in the capacity to use technology, skills and competencies required and information literacies. According to Thompson (2009)"Without attention to these potential second level digital divides, gaps and inequalities may widen over time despite concerted efforts to provide access to ICT"
5. It is based on unfounded assumptions about current approaches to teaching.
One of the key themes of the net generation discourse is that the current educational paradigm does not adequately deal with the needs of the net generation. The argument is that we need to move away from the current transmission mode of teaching to a more student-centered, interactive and collaborative mode. While there may still be a lot of this style of teaching, most public school education at the K-12 level moved away from the transmission mode over 20 years ago. In higher education we see the widespread use of case-based, problem-based, inquiry-based and experiential learning approaches.
6. The evidence doesn't support most of the key Net Gen claims.
Almost all of the claims of the net gen discourse are in popular media and if they are based on research, it is proprietary and full methodological details are not provided. All of the sound research that refutes the claims is published in scholarly journals and has been subject to peer review.