Dear Agony Aunt,

I don’t understand my grandchildren anymore. They are so busy being online that the language they use in the real world is full of terminology I can’t grasp and they talk about things I have no idea about. I wouldn’t care if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t think I can relate to them anymore. How can I learn their language? Am I too late to join the digital world?




To start, there are two types of people that exist in today’s world: digital natives and digital tourists. Digital natives are those that have grown up using technology in almost every element of their lives, ever since they uttered their first word (which was most likely ‘iPad’).

Digital tourists, on the other hand, are people that grew up without technology and have had to learn about it. Whereas the natives know everything inside out, the tourists wait at the outskirts surrounded by how-to guides and barely functioning ‘iPod Classics’.

But don’t fret Henry – being a digital tourist is not the end of the world. A digital tourist can very easily blend in with the digital natives with a little bit of practice! The best thing for any tourist to do is to simply explore the digital world. Once you get past the rude stuff, the inane amount of cat videos on YouTube (you’ll see) and the parody news websites, you’ll start to learn the digital language and get a little bit closer to the natives.

Don’t spend another day thinking ‘Facebook’ is an online autobiography seller. Look it up through Google, find out what a social media site actually is, sign up and give it a go. The chances are a lot of people you know have already given it a shot. And don’t not use any of the ‘apps’ on your phone because you don’t understand them – give them a go to!

When it comes to technology, always have the attitude to ‘learn by doing’. You’ll end up picking up far more than you would probably realise this way, and before you know it, you’ll fit right in with your little natives in no time.

To continue the ‘learn by doing’ mantra, use YouTube – not merely for animal videos (seriously, you’ll see), but as a guide for anything you need to know. You’d be surprised how many people take time out of their lives to record little tutorials on just about everything and put them onto the site. Whether it’s how to build to shed, or an explanation of what Twitter is, there will be one (thousand) videos there for you.

Being a tourist seems difficult. It can alienate you from native relatives / friends. All you can do is try and embrace what they find so natural, and before you know it… your days of being a tourist will be over. You’ll understand the language, get the gadgets and dig the digital. Best of luck!

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