Figure 1. Encompasses the uncertainty of what a digital visitor and resident is
The terms digital natives and immigrants were originally coined by Prensky (2001) which were used to explain disparities within digital engagement. Successively, this concept suggests that people who have grown up in the digital revolution (digital natives) are more familiar with digital technology and consequently use it more frequently, in comparison to their senior counterparts who struggle to adapt to a vastly evolving digital world (digital immigrants) Prensky (2001).
Notwithstanding, this idea received criticism for its age segregations and was later challenged by research from (White & Le Cornu, 2011) who argued that digital engagement should not be viewed as a binary opposition but rather as a continuum. Subsequently, they refined the terms digital natives and immigrants to digital visitors and residents which aims to reflect this continuum. Consistently, (White et al., 2012) contend that digital immigrants are not automatically less technically adept than the residents. Instead technology usage is dependent on goals, visions and motivations as opposed to background and age.
Additionally, research has found that the main differences between visitors and residents are as follows (White, 2014):
Figure 2. Suggests that visitors have one target when using the internet
- Need to see a benefit of using the platform
- Functional use (coursework, emails)
- Unlikely to have any persistent online profile and usually do not want a digital identity
- 6 hours spent online on average per week
- Prefer personal networks
Figure 3. Conceptualises the social presence of the resident
- Merge online presence with reality
- Value online as a source of knowledge and communication
- Significant online presence
- High usage (more than ten hours per week)
- Actively use social media
The following video also highlights this concept in greater detail:
Furthermore, in my personal life, I tend to shy away from online communication. This is because I prefer personal interactions despite having grown up in the digital age, which anecdotally disproves Prensky’s theory. However, to say that I am completely digitally unskilled would also be reductive. As (White et al., 2011) rightfully suggests, my digital presence varies depending on context for example, university requires a high level of online research and sophisticated internet use; since this is intended for a specific purpose here I am a digital visitor. However, in alternative circumstances I do exploit online networks to maintain social ties especially long distance friendships which have arisen because of university. Additionally, I share my opinions online through platforms such as blogging thus here I am a digital resident. Therefore, I belong in the middle of this spectrum.
Digital Visitors ME Digital Residents
Figure 4. Illustrates the continuum of digital engagement with my personal rating on this scale.
For further reading, be sure to check out: http://daveowhite.com/vandr/
Dave White (2013) Just the mapping. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK1Iw1XtwQ (Accessed: 10 February 2017).
Prensky, M. (2001a) ‘Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1’, On the Horizon, 9(5), pp. 1–6. doi: 10.1108/10748120110424816.
Prensky, M. (2001b) ‘Digital natives, digital immigrants part 2: Do they really think differently?’, On the Horizon, 9(6), pp. 1–6. doi: 10.1108/10748120110424843.
White, D. (2014) Visitors & residents. Available at: http://daveowhite.com/vandr/ (Accessed: 10 February 2017).
White, D., Le Cornu, A., Hood, E., Lanclos, D. and Silipigni, L. (2012) Digital residents and visitors progress report.
White, D.S. and Le Cornu, A. (2011) ‘Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement’, First Monday, 16(9). doi: 10.5210/fm.v16i9.3171.
Figure 1. Photcredit: ZinCheong via WordPress
Figure 2. Photo credit: Nerthuz via shuttershock
Figure 3. Photo credit: Magicatwork via Flickr
Figure 4. Self-produced