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The purpose of this study is to determine the cultural and social barriers that are preventing Laredoans from becoming digital citizens. In order to document the technological dynamics in great detail authors decided to follow a multigenerational approach where three generations of the same family were invited to participate. The questionnaire deployed in Laredo took about 30 minutes per participant, and consisted of five sections.

If the response was positive, the interviewer continued with the remaining four sections. However, if the answer was negative, the interviewer would thank the person and stop the interview at that moment. The third section, Techno-Capital, inquired about the knowledge that each participant had about technology. For example, questions regarding computer operation, software, search engines, e-mail use, etc. For instance, questions were asked about their perception of the use of computers and the internet at work, at social gatherings, at school, and so on.

This innovative border survey was first tested in all three generations of two families. Then, the instrument was applied to gather the data of 16 families. The results are presented in the next section. The authors would like to begin the cultural and social barriers discussion by presenting general demographic information about the participants. All of them claimed to be Hispanic, more precisely Mexican-American. Each respondent was classified in a particular group according to their chronological age.

Some of the life experiences that participants felt most proud of were to have a united and supportive family, parents still together, being able to raise smart and well-mannered children, pursue a university education, to be a hard-working individual, to be able to acculturate into the American lifestyle. Respondents pointed out that the most important lesson that they have learned from their family was to be patient, to love, to work hard, to believe in oneself, to be close to family members, manners, respect, education, and never give up no matter what.

The immigration history of participants is unique to the border lifestyle; several members of each generation were born in America and raised on this side of the border. However, other participants were raised in Nuevo Laredo and crossed the bridge across the Rio Grande River every day to Laredo to attend school or to work. In addition, there are cases where either the mother or the father is a US citizen and they process the immigration documents for their partner in order to be together.

Also, several participants commented on the economic advantages of living on the Mexican side of the border.


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The money goes a long way, if an individual earns in dollars and spends in pesos, with the exchange rate their quality of life increases on the Mexican side having access to great housing, food, public services, etc. Other respondents remarked to having two homes, one in Laredo and the other in Nuevo Laredo, due to business and family matters. Participants commented that when they were growing up they dreamed about becoming a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a lawyer, a biologist, a police officer, a lab technician, a business owner, a wife, and a mother.

Overall, participants have learned from their families to always work hard and finish school. The outcomes are presented by generation starting with the senior participants 1 st generation and ending with the youngest contributors 3 rd generation. Participants mentioned that they did not have much technology around the house due to lack of economic means. The most important notion about technology that senior participants learned from their family was that it gathered the family because it was a collective activity and experience.

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The first time that senior respondents were in contact with the computer was through their work and family. For example, Julian, 70, worked for the City Health Department. The only program available for computers was word processing, we mainly used it to create databases to enter and store data. When I left the workforce to get married, we used electric typewriters.

Now, companies use computers, so I had to learn, on the fly, how to operate it. She was playing on the computer. I could not believe that a baby could play with computers, especially because I did not know how to turn it on! However, several of them view the internet as a harmful practice because it is intrusive.

It has no filters, no morals, no values. I would send them to bed. Later, I would check on them and they were in their bed, but they were watching on their iPods who knows what! The most important thing that second-generation participants learned about technology in their family was that technology is not essential for daily life.

This type of technology did not exist back then. Consequently, my parents did not influence me on pursuing technology. I met the internet in 97 when I was already married.

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The first time that the second-generation had contact with computers was by means of work-related activities. Everything had to be done through a computer. I had no choice, if I wanted to keep my job, I had to learn it. The respondents explained their feelings regarding the internet. Under these cultural circumstances information means power. Outsiders find that locals keep information to themselves because they know that their survival depends on it. As a rule, to survive in this town, everybody stays quiet. The internet makes too much noise, everybody knows what you are up to. The third-generation is the most connected of all generations.

During their childhood, they had access to computers, video games Nintendo, Xbox , radio, color television, cable television, CD players, iPads, iPods, Android-Tablets, kindle devices, and blue-ray players around their home. The most important message that third-generation respondents learned about technology from their family was that people do not need digital equipment to seek entertainment, intellectual knowledge, or friends; which is contrary to what the younger generation would say given their reliance on technology.

The first time that they had access to a computer was through school activities, parents, and work. We would use laptops that the teacher would lend us to do assignments on it. He started clicking on everything, just to see what happened. Then, he showed me and my sister how to use it. Also, freelance work led Judith, 25, to discover computers. I would use my computer to play the music for the karaoke version of my show.

We take orders on touch screens. Generally, older generations provide guidance and wisdom to the new generations. However, the research outcomes reveal that this is not the tendency in terms of technological knowledge. The youngest generations usually made the oldest generation aware about technological advances, not the other way around. As respondents stated, this reverse process has been difficult on them. My parents do not want me to spend a lot of time on the internet. To them, it is a dangerous place where everybody lies about everything.

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She complains about young people sitting next to each other without talking to each other. Some young contributors started to practicing self-censorship because of negative experiences while using the internet. After witnessing all her suffering. I do not use social media anymore. FB is a massive public medium where your information is exposed to many people instantaneously. Therefore, posting private stuff that can harm them. I used to have a FB page, but I felt overwhelmed with so much information so I decided to quit. In short, members of the 1 st generation believe that computers and internet are intrusive and harmful to their families.

Similarity, the 2 nd generation considers that technology is useful, but intrusive at the same time. Technology is useful to work-related activities and intrusive because it creates social noise, creates personal problems with significant others, children, parents, and prevents them from having a personal life to enjoy. In contrast, for the 3 rd generation technology is useful to do homework. However, this generation stated that it was intrusive because it can be used for negative purposes such as cyber bullying, and promoting low motivation to read, study, or develop critical-thinking skills.

The second research question ask about how the 1 st , 2 nd , and 3 rd generations of Laredo families perceive the importance of technological knowledge that individuals possess to confidently operate digital devices in their daily lives. This section describes the participants drive to learn how to manipulate digital gadgets. The first generation keeps in touch with their local family and friends by visiting them at their homes and social gatherings. The outcomes have determined that the first choice of participants was to call their friends up using a landline phone.

Nevertheless, this communication pattern sometimes does not apply to their family members. Senior participants stated that they had to learn how to use digital technology in order to communicate with their children and grandchildren. I have a hard time texting because my fingers are too big for the letters of my cell phone, but when I text them they return the text right away. I went to the Judge, I agreed to take a minute car technology class as payment for my ticket.

I live here because I fell in love with a beautiful girl from Laredo. I made a deal with my phone company for a fixed rate. I can call all I want to Mexico. The results demonstrated that a few of the participants communicate via Skype with their family members who live out of town, but always using a local family member to set up the communication. He is the only one who knows how to communicate with his mom. The real problem comes when you have to use it.

Turning it on is easy, but figuring out what each icon does is challenging. However, their grandchildren do the practical performance of this digital operation. If I want to find something on the internet, they assist me in finding the information because I spell the word for them to type it. I prefer my internet on the cell because I can look up information anywhere.

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At home, I do not have internet because I do not use it. The results indicated that the main software that the first-generation used on the computer was Microsoft Office, focusing on Word, Excel, and Outlook. The leading task that senior respondents performed when accessing the digital world was social media, more specifically FB, followed by YouTube videos, and search engines. Seniors use the internet to look up information, to connect with people, and for entertainment. The second generation keeps in touch with their local family and friends by texting them.

Participants indicated that they prefer to text, the second choice is making a call to their cell phones, and the last resource is to communicate via email and social media. If I text him or call him I can wait several hours for his response, but if I send him a private message on FB he responds in minutes. I like to text her to not interfere with her work duties or her driving. My sister is a homemaker, but keeps a very strict schedule for my niece and nephew, so I do not like to interrupt or call in a bad time.

I think texting is a very effective way to communicate with people. At work, respondents use fax machines, desktop computers, laptops, copier machines, and scanners. Several second-generation respondents believe that their children have become their teachers. My life has changed so much that I depend a lot on technology and cannot live or work without it. In terms of technology, the cycle of transfer of knowledge takes place from the young to the old, not the other way around.

I work for an international trade company. We are in charge of creating all the paperwork needed to import and export goods. Customs change their procedures all the time and we need to be on top of the game. Procedures have changed tremendously over the years, now all the paperwork is electronic. Nowadays, all that is needed at the international bridge is a code. Those numbers provide all the information required to the Customs officer conducting the valuation on the merchandise. Facebook is the favorite venue of communication for the third-generation to stay in touch with their local and out-of-town friends.

Everybody is available all the time.


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  • In case it is not possible, he has agreed to read my texts. Therefore, only face-to-face communication is allowed. It was not an easy transition for her. I had to train my grandma, but it was worth it. When members of the third-generation need information, they go to the internet as their first preference. Then, they consult traditional media outlets and seek assistance with their friends. During the presidential election, their main source for news was the internet, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

    In addition, respondents made the clarification that they watch only the presidential debates on television. When members of the third-generation need information, they go to the internet as their first choice for preference. In addition, respondents commented that at work they use several technological devices such as smart cell phones, computers, internet, social media, and copier machine.


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    In summary, the 1 st generation likes to call and visit their local friends, but for the family they had to learn technology in order to communicate with them. Negative experiences have also motivated them to learn the technology. For the out-of-town friends and family, they mainly call; a very limited number of participants use Skype to communicate with family. Senior members believe that technology is complex and involves a learning process. Therefore, their grandchildren have become their hands-on person and their teachers. Race is experienced by both immigrant and South Asian first-generation populations not as a productive source of organizing identity, but as an oppression that is experienced mostly in the larger public sphere.

    The two ideologies are envisioned and experienced differently: In diasporic discourse, "the West" is often referenced as a place that encourages individualism, alienation, and economic productivity, while "South Asia" symbolizes familial relations, fluid social relations, and a rich cultural heritage, conjured through nostalgia. But not so surprisingly, for most middle-class South Asian women, gender and sexuality are salient issues. Women bear the burden of salvaging and reproducing culture, in addition to making economic contributions to the household and the nation through paid work.

    Traditions are not uniformly constraints for women; cultural codes are malleable entities, reinterpreted, resisted, or supported by women on a situational basis, and mostly negotiated in the private sphere. Culture also serves as a ground for asserting female identity and power. So, many South Asian women do not necessarily undergo "liberation" upon arrival in Canada; rather, they must deal with racism, as well as specific forms of patriarchy in Canadian society.

    Despite holding Canadian citizenship now, and living here for over thirty years, my parents, like other members of the immigrant generation, hold on to their historical allegiance to South Asia. They express their sense of being distinct from what they call the "majority culture," but also show a determination to participate in Canadian life at various levels, through their personal activities, professions, friendships, and community work. It is clear that they feel their difference from the dominant Eurocentric culture not because they refuse to integrate with the value system, but because they have to overcome an essentialized sense of difference in Canadian society, which hegemonically organizes an image of South Asian identity.

    Thus, they do not always create a sense of insurmountable ethnic difference and a desire for seclusion from dominant society. Rather, their assertion of ethnicity is seen as a threat to the ideal homogeneity of a Eurocentric Canadian identity. South Asian "difference" is constructed by others as much as it is embraced by diasporic agents living by it. Learn more about Amazon Prime. Please try your request again later. Fernando Klein was born in Montevideo-Uruguay in He worked as anthropologist for organisations and universities in Uruguay and Spain. His books were published in Latin America and Spain.

    Licenciado em Antropologia Social e Cultural. De la Plaza; Montevideo; El Hombre que fue Convertido en Dios"; Ed. Are you an author? Help us improve our Author Pages by updating your bibliography and submitting a new or current image and biography. Learn more at Author Central. Popularity Popularity Featured Price: Low to High Price: