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of technologies’ (White & Cornu, 2011) between the younger and older generation; as well as being quite an outdated theory.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: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf [Accessed 10 February 2017].
White, D. (2008). TALL Blog | Blog Archive | Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’ online | Tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk | Available at: http://tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk/index.php/2008/07/23/not-natives-immigrants-but-visitors-residents/
David S. White and Alison Le Cornu.. (2011). Visitors and Resident: A new typology for online engagement, Available: http://firstmonday.org/article/view/3171/3049. Last accessed 12 February 2017.
David White. (2014). Visitors & Residents. Available: http://daveowhite.com/vandr/. Last accessed 12 February 2017.