Challenging the Myth of the Digital Native: A Narrative Review

Lisa Reid, Didy Button, Mark Brommeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
137 Downloads (Pure)


Background and Aims: Nurses are increasingly engaging with digital technologies to enhance safe, evidence-based patient care. Digital literacy is now considered a foundational skill and an integral requirement for lifelong learning, and includes the ability to search efficiently, critique information and recognise the inherent risk of bias in information sources. However, at many universities, digital literacy is assumed. In part, this can be linked to the concept of the Digital Native, a term first coined in 2001 by the US author Marc Prensky to describe young people born after 1980 who have been surrounded by mobile phones, computers, and other digital devices their entire lives. The objective of this paper is to explore the concept of the Digital Native and how it influences undergraduate nursing education. Materials and Methods: A pragmatic approach was used for this narrative review, working forward from Prensky’s definition of the Digital Native and backward from contemporary sources of information extracted from published health, education and nursing literature. Results: The findings from this narrative review will inform further understanding of digital literacy beliefs and how these beliefs influence undergraduate nursing education. Recommendations for enhancing the digital literacy of undergraduate nursing students are also discussed. Conclusions: Digital literacy is an essential requirement for undergraduate nursing students and nurses and is linked with safe, evidence-based patient care. The myth of the Digital Native negates the reality that exposure to digital technologies does not equate digital literacy and has resulted in deficits in nursing education programs. Digital literacy skills should be a part of undergraduate nursing curricula, and National Nursing Digital Literacy competencies for entry into practice as a Registered Nurse should be developed and contextualised to individual jurisdictions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-600
Number of pages28
JournalNursing Reports
Issue number2
Early online date4 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • nursing education
  • undergraduate curricula
  • nursing workforce
  • digital literacy
  • information and communication technologies
  • digital health


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