Previously the greatly criticised Marc Prenksy made the comparison of digital “natives” and digital “immigrants” in his work ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’ (2001). To summarise, Prenksy suggests that all students today are “native speakers of the digital language”, they have been born into a generation where they have always known the internet and as a result it has become embedded in their daily life. The term digital “immigrant” refers to the older generation who did not have access to the internet while growing up and as such although they try to adapt to this new development, they cannot completely adjust.
However, this theory has multiple flaws and as such the concept of digital “visitors” and digital “residents” has taken over. This concept differs from Presnky’s idea of digital “natives” and digital “immigrants” in that it refers to the way in which people use the internet rather than the specific divide in generations (White & Cornu, 2011).
This video briefly summaries the key differences between digital “visitors” and digital “residents”.
Digital “Visitors” and Digital “Residents” refers to how people use the internet. For example a digital ‘visitor’ does not have a complete understanding of the web, they merely use it to carry out a task that will benefit them such as booking a holiday. Often a ‘visitor’ will choose a time to go online, “they always have an appropriate and focused need to use the web but don’t ‘reside’ there.” (University of Oxford) Additionally, visitors tend not to have any real identity on the web, they are guests rather than members of sites and refrain from setting up profiles. Visitors have to be able to achieve something online otherwise they will avoid it.
Digital ‘residents’ approach the internet in a completely different manner in that they are ‘at home’ when online. They use the web for practicalities such as banking, research and shopping but mainly use it to socialise through sites such as Facebook and twitter. This is where ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ differ. They are comfortable sharing their opinions online and use the web in almost all aspects of life but particularly for socialising and when seeking information or research.
Since the idea of digital ‘visitor’ and digital ‘resident’ is on a continuum it is very difficult to know where on this spectrum an individual fits. However, there is no arguing that today’s society relies almost entirely on the web to function and people today are moving closer and closer to becoming digital ‘residents’.
Prensky, M. (2001) “Digital natives, digital immigrants,” On the Horizon, volume 9, number 5, [Online] Available at: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf, Last Accessed 10th Oct 2016
Ravenhil. L. (2015). Digital Residents Vs Visitors. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM2JPca9Rwk%20 . Last accessed 12th Oct 2016.
University of Oxford, Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’. Tall Blog. Available: http://tallblog.conted.ox.acresident.uk/index.php/2008/07/23/not-natives-immigrants-but-visitors-residents/. Last accessed 11th Oct 2016.
White. D. Visitors & Residents. Available: http://daveowhite.com/vandr/. Last accessed 11th Oct 2016.
White. D, Le Cornu. A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday. 16 (5),