It is safe to say that digital technology is an irreplaceable aspect of modern life. However, despite this fact, there is a clear distinction between those who live a large aspect of their lives online and those who only use technology or the web as an access point for information. Prensky (2001) defined these two categories as digital ‘natives’, the innate experts in technology and digital ‘immigrants’, who are foreign to the world of technology.
White and Cornu (2011) posited an alternative thesis, highlighting that the distinction isn’t as clear cut and doesn’t account for other aspects such as the web being tool as a principal reason why people use it. In light of this, it is proposed that there are digital ‘visitors and ‘residents’.
According to Lanclos and Cornu, digital ‘visitors’ remain “relatively anonymous” and “try to avoid the creation of digital identity” (2012:6). Their purpose is predominantly to achieve an aim when engaging with the web and once this purpose is fulfilled, they return the tool to the shed and go about their lives offline (White and Cornu, 2011). Digital ‘residents’ are almost completely opposite. They are characterised for seeing the web as a place and somewhere that they live out a part of their life. For ‘residents’, an indispensable part of their online presence involves the creation and maintenance of a digital identity, mostly through social networking sites, but does still include the use of more practical tools (i.e. websites for online banking).
In considering my own position on the “continuum of ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’” (White and Cornu, 2011) I agree with a lot of the points that are made, especially regarding age. I would definitely describe myself as being a part of the box in the centre of Figure 1. I’ve been using the web for the majority of my life, however as I’ve grown older, I have become a ‘Resident’ in my professional/university life and more of a ‘Visitor’ in my personal life. This is mostly because from my experience, using some popular social media sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat), it’s difficult to keep up-to-date with daily life online as well as in ‘real life’, so in the last few years I’ve gradually become more removed from social media. However, I am very aware of the benefits of using the web for interactive purposes, which I am currently exploring through this blog.
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Lanclos, D. & Le Cornu, A., (2012). Digital Visitors and Residents. JISC, University of Oxford, OCLC, University of North Carolina. [Accessed: 11 February 2017]
Prensky, M., (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Part II: Do They Really Think Differently? On the Horizon. [Accessed: 11 February 2017]
White, D., (2008) Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’. TALL Blog (blog). [Accessed: 11 February 2017]
White, D., (2008) What exactly are your students up to online?. TALL Blog (blog). [Accessed: 11 February 2017]
White, D. S., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). [Accessed: 10 February 2017]
[jiscnetskills] (2014, March 10). Visitors and Residents [Video File]. [Accessed: 11 February 2017]