Posted to the Ethnos Project by on May 25th, 2015

In the late 70s, a US television program for children called the Big Blue Marble aired on a Malaysian local television channel and it provided children in the country the opportunity to learn about the lives and activities of children from other parts of the world. There was also a segment on pen pals, which helped children connect with each other through writing, though they may be worlds apart in terms of geography, culture, language and traditions. A line in its opening theme song summed up the essence of the show – “Together is a word we must learn to understand, if we ever want to get to know each other better”. It signified the importance of togetherness, sharing of ideas and exchanging of experiences in order to better understand and appreciate the cultures, beliefs and traditions upheld by children from various communities around the globe. At the time of broadcast, snail mail was the only mode of information sharing, and the ideas and experiences exchanged were mainly in verbal form. Forty years on, upon reflection, how information was shared between children across the globe has evolved through ICT media, children today are more likely to engage in email correspondence rather than using conventional mail to connect with friends, old and new, from around the world. Prensky has aptly labeled today’s children as the Digital Natives (Prensky, 2001), Email has become a central part of the lives of the Digital Natives which also include computer games, social networks, the Internet, cell phones and instant messaging, all of which suggest that these children function best when placed in a networked digital environment (Prensky, 2001).

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