My son asked me recently, ‘How did you ever make arrangements with your friends when you were young without mobile messaging?’

It took me some time to think, given that we are talking a number of years ago. However, it was quite simple. You made arrangements before you went home for the next time you’d meet. And if something went wrong? You might be able to use your telephone to re-arrange, if you had one and were allowed to by your parents.

Now, of course, times, dates and venues fluctuate before young people settle on when and where they will meet, if they have to meet at all. Social networking means that most stories, events and gossip can be shared without coming within a stones throw of each other.

However much some of us may wistfully reflect back on the time when we spoke to each other one at a time, it’s not going to change. In view of this it’s perhaps time to embrace the digital age, shake off our digital immigrant status and act like a native.

What is a digital native?

The term ‘digital native’ refers to someone who was born into the new culture of technology explosion. This is in contrast to ‘digital immigrant’ who wasn’t and has probably been dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age.

The way in which the ‘digital native’ communicates is through social networking, messaging and texting. It is a strange new world to those of us born into the analogue age who have seen these rapid advances but hanker back to something different.

However, if we, the immigrants, don’t change then we will be forced into digital poverty. Not an enticing prospect and it needn’t happen.

Moving with the times

There are plenty of examples of ‘immigrants’ who are becoming almost indiscernible from the natives. Rather than reflecting back on what used to be or complaining about the difficulties that modern technology can cause, they are looking at ways of building on its uses both for their own lives and with others.

A good example of this, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ approach comes from a school in Catalonia, Spain. The headteacher in the Torre del Palau school, Evaristo González, rather than banning mobiles in class has chosen to make them part of the curriculum on the basis that, ‘It’s better to join forces with the enemy’.

Mobiles must be kept on silent and in bags during most lessons but in some, such as Digital media and communication, they form an intrinsic part of the lesson and are used for creating apps or recording videos.

This is one example of how some people have become intrepid explorers into the new world. Many people who have moved countries have also embraced the opportunities of the digital world to keep in contact with their families. Skype has proved to be particularly popular and posting pictures on Facebook is no longer just the preserve of the native.


How the digital can enhance your life in Spain

Let’s look at the real advantages to embracing the digital as a home owner in Spain:

  • Keep up with your favourite TV programmes – satellite and the internet can keep you connected
  • Make appointments at the doctors – ask at your medical centre and in some areas you can book in your appointment online
  • Follow your hospital appointment history – in some regions you can see exactly what you’ve attended and what’s next
  • If SUMA collect your taxes you can pay these online
  • Pay traffic fines online
  • You can make an appointment at social security online and avoid the queues
  • Order from Amazon and other sites who will deliver those goods that you just can’t do without from your home country
  • Book weekend stays – why not try a Parador?
  • Use google translate – it might not be perfect but if your Spanish isn’t either at least you’ve got a helping hand
  • Refer to websites to help you enjoy Spain – On the Pulse is one example where you can keep up to date with the news and events and get advice and information in your own language
  • Get the best deals – from insurance to flights there are many sites now that provide you with the opportunity to find the best value arrangement to suit your needs

It may be a world that is very much removed from where you started out, but there are some terrific advantages to being an immigrant in the digital age.  Let it enhance your life in leaps and bounds and make sure you stay connected in Spain.

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