Digital Visitors vs Digital Residents: Where do you fit in?

There is no doubt that we now live in such an increasingly digital driven age where the consumption of technology has grown over time. As such, Prensky (2001), initially proposed the theory that there were two different types of digital users; natives and immigrants.

Natives vs Immigrants

Digital Natives represent those who grew up with technology and naturally use it with ease, suggesting they are competent digital users. Whilst, Digital immigrants represent those who were not born into the digital world but have later adopted the aspect of new technology.

Whilst, to a certain extent I can agree with this, I wouldn’t exactly classify the older generation in being inadequte with their technological skills. For example, whilst it can be funny (and exhausting!) to see my parents struggle in keeping up with the latest technology and social media trends; I too have had difficulty in improving my technological proficiency.

Therefore, this theory has been criticised due to the fact that the distinction between the two ‘does not help guide the implementation of technologies’ (White & Cornu, 2011) between the younger and older generation; as well as being quite an outdated theory.

Visitors vs Residents

As a result, the concept of digital ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ appeared as a response towards Prensky’s theory, in which they are categorized mainly based on people’s motivations with engaging online. White and Cornu (2011) argue that digital visitors are described as those who use the web to carry out tasks to achieve a certain goal such as online grocery shopping. Whereas, digital residents use the web to ‘interact and communicate with others’ (White, 2014) as well as maintaining and developing their digital identity. This can be done through the likes of different social media accounts, where the resident may want to use the web to ‘socialize and express themselves’ (Tall Blog, 2008).

Further detail is explained in the video below:



Drawing upon my own experiences, I think I identify as being a digital resident. This is because I have such an active online presence which I use to communicate with my friends and tend to leave my digital footprint out there for people to see via social media accounts like snapchat. However, at the same time, I can relate to that of a digital visitor as there are times where I use the web specifically to complete a task, such as for studious purposes. With this being said, it is important to approach these two notions as a continuum rather than two separate labels.


Prensky, M. (2001) Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the Horizon, 9 (5), 1–6. Available from:,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf [Accessed 10 February 2017].

White, D. (2008). TALL Blog | Blog Archive | Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’ online | | Available at:

David S. White and Alison Le Cornu.. (2011). Visitors and Resident: A new typology for online engagement, Available: Last accessed 12 February 2017.

David White. (2014). Visitors & Residents. Available: Last accessed 12 February 2017.



8 thoughts on “Digital Visitors vs Digital Residents: Where do you fit in?

  1. Hi Carolina

    Firstly, I want to compliment your blog! I like how you have categories in your home page as this makes your blog easily navigable. I’ve recently followed and look forward to reading your future posts.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post on digital residents and visitors. Your use of video and clear subheadings made the the topic easy to understand. I especially liked how you included your personal experience within your discussion, such as seeing your parents struggle with technology as I can totally relate with that since having to constantly teach mine how to use certain tools.

    Like myself you consider yourself a digital resident which I believe is the norm for our generation. However, I appreciate that you also related to being a digital visitor when using the web for studies; this made me think about the topic in a different view and I agree with being both a resident and a visitor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ellie,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post! Your positive comments are very much appreciated.

      I touch upon the fact that I consider myself both a digital resident and visitor in different aspects; however in relation to yourself, where would you consider yourself more of a visitor ? And do you think digital users are aware of the distinction between the two?

      Thanks again,


      1. Hi Carolina ,

        I was aware you considered yourself both a visitor and a resident ; I was just curious on whether you considered yourself to be more of one than the other.

        Likewise, it is hard for me to pick one only. I consider to also be a bit of both but i would say i am definitely more of a resident due to my high engagement on social media.

        I believe that digital users are aware that there are different ways people use the web but not many know of this typology.

        thank you for your reply!


  2. Hey Carolina, great job on creating your first post. I loved your example of seeing your parents struggle when keeping up with the latest technology as I could easily relate to that scenario myself.

    Also well done on using subheadings when moving on to your next point, it made the structure of your presentation very clear and easy to follow, which is a vital point when blogging.

    The video that you have uploaded also further helped illustrating the research that you have carried out. A suggestion that I have for your future blogs would be to try and attempt to create some self-produced images or videos. I believe that would make your posts even stronger and show a higher level of engagement. I am sure that your viewers would appreciate that.

    Overall this is a great start ! I am looking forward in reading more of your blogs in the future.

    Thanks Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sharon!

      Thanks for the comment! I am glad to see that you enjoyed my first blog post as I did want to make it as relatable as possible for my readers.

      Your feedback is very much appreciated and is something I do intend on taking board for my next blog post. Creating my own videos is something which is relatively new to me and I am quite excited to see how it will improve engagement to my blog.

      Thank you,

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s