Prensky (2001) created the concepts of digital natives and digital immigrants in order to understand and explain the variations of digital engagement between different generations. Digital natives is used to describe the younger generation that feel more comfortable with the digital world compared to the older generation (digital immigrants) who use it less frequently and generally struggle to keep up with the constantly developing digital world.
However, the terms garnered some criticisms due to the fact that it separated different generations based simply on age. Further research concluded that digital engagement should be analysed as a continuum instead (White and Le Cornu, 2011). In light of this, the terms digital natives and immigrants were modified into digital visitors and residents. Similarly to the earlier concepts, the term digital visitors aims to describe those that are generally less proficient in the digital world than digital residents. With these new terms, they are not strictly limited to age groups – meaning that even those in the younger generations can be classed as a digital visitor. The graphic below demonstrates how each category utilises the digital world.
For further discussion on the topic, the video below created by The University of Oxford goes into more detail about the differences between digital residents and visitors.
Personally, I would say I definitely lean more towards being a digital resident. I feel very comfortable maintaining my digital identity online through the use of several social media channels. The diagram below demonstrates more clearly where I view myself in terms of either a resident or visitor.
I also utilise academic resources online and would say those resources are a fundamental aspect of my degree. Studying Politics and International Relations, every day the content I study changes or updates and the Internet allows me to access these updates at the click of a button. However, there are still some aspects of the digital world that I take longer to get to grips with and whilst I am very comfortable with the social media channels and websites I use, I tend not to stray from what I know. Therefore, I would place myself not fully at the point of being a digital resident.
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 and Residents. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPOG3iThmRI [Accessed 10 Feb. 2017].
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: Self-produced
Figure 2: Self-produced
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