THE new generation may be good with technology and power-browsing but weak in face to face communication, says former education officer Vasiti Loki.
She told the Fiji Library mini-symposium and annual general meeting in Suva yesterday there was a risk of "creating a nation of digital zombies who may be good at multi-tasking using their fingers on the keyboard but very bad at face-to-face relationships".
"The digital age stupefies young Fijians and jeopardises our future by 'turning out hyper-networked' kids who can track each other's every move with ease but are largely ignorant with history, economics, culture and other subjects," she said.
"These subjects I believe are the pre-requisite for meaningful civic participation."
Ms Loki said: "We live in a culture where young people are outfitted with iPhones and laptops and devote hours, even from age 10 and onwards, to messaging of one kind and another.
"They take on a language alien to the older generation and their English essays in schools reflect they cannot decide the difference between texting language and the proper English essay writing variety.
"They are less likely to develop the 'silent fluency' that comes from face to face interaction. It is a skill that we all must learn in actual social settings from people (often older) who are adapted in the idiom."
Ms Loki said users nowadays were not reading online in the traditional sense and there were signs a new form of reading was emerging as users 'power-browse' horizontally through titles, content pages and abstracts and going for quick wins.
She said it seemed like users go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense.
"Readers may also be less inclined to read texts straight through from start to finish and instead be diverted by links on screen.
"We end up with piece-meal information from here and there and forget to complete the hard-earned text of an author who dared to complete writing a text."
She said the flow, logic and reasoning that came with reading a book in total, were lost.