Migration in the European digital world


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A digital immigrant, according to Investopedia, is someone who was born before the internet age. These people, many of whom are in their late teens or early twenties, did not grow up with ubiquitous computing or the internet, and have had to learn a new vocabulary and practice of digital technology. This contrasts with digital natives, who have never known a world without the internet and smart technologies. Marc Prensky created the phrase “digital immigrant” in 2001 to characterize someone who grew up before the digital age. People who were born before 1985 are generally termed digital immigrants. In contrast to digital, they were introduced to technology later in life and adapted its use.


This gap called for a change to the way educators interacted with their students so that they could learn in a way that made sense in the digital age. The idea of the digital immigrant is not without controversy. It implies that there is a definitive gap between two generations and does not account for people born prior to 1985 who may have had a role in developing these technologies or who seamlessly adapted to the digital age. It also doesn’t take into consideration an entire population of children that don’t have access to the internet and other common technologies and, therefore, may find themselves outsiders in both groups.

The UNDP reports that since early 2020, all types of human mobility, particularly international migration, have been severely disrupted. Some people have been stranded at borders, unable to leave their home countries, while others have been unable to return home after spending time abroad. Travel limitations alone decreased the growth of worldwide migrant populations by 27%, or two million migrants, in 2020. Migrants are at a higher risk of being ill, according to studies, with COVID-19 infection rates in some OECD nations being twice as high. During the second quarter of 2020, the equivalent of 400 million jobs were destroyed, disproportionately affecting migrants. Migrants continued to send money home, frequently depleting their savings as many lost their jobs.

Migrants used online banking services, demonstrating the value of digital technology in keeping the economy going. The pandemic’s quick adoption of digital tools has been a defining feature. Work was already being transformed by artificial intelligence, bitcoin, virtual reality, the Internet of Things, and a slew of other new technology. This digital transition accelerated due to the necessity for social separation and travel restrictions. Digital technology provides unique benefits and opportunities for migrants and displaced individuals, as well as all others who aspire to a better life. They can learn new skills, gain access to important information and services, and develop new networks by going online. They can look for better jobs, create businesses, or venture into new markets.

The European Commission produced a White Paper on Immigration last year. From the early design phase to testing and validation, the projects advocate incorporating numerous stakeholders, including migrants, in the delivery of digital services to migrants. The various problems that these programs have encountered highlight the importance of incorporating migrants, public agencies, and local NGOs in order to ensure that ICT tools can provide services adapted to migrants’ requirements. The initiatives think that involving migrants in the early stages of digital service design, as well as exchanging best practices among stakeholders, would result in improved ICT-based support for migrants. The projects argue in the whitepaper that the EU might play a key mediating role in facilitating the exchange of experiences and best practices.

Written by: Nenad Stekić

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