Intro Topic: Digital Visitors and Digital Residents

Digital visitors and Digital residents is a further development of Prenksy’s original theory of digital natives and digital immigrants.

Prensky set to make a distinction between people who are completely at ease with technology and the digital world and those who actively work and know how to use the internet but will never be fully competent. This became an extremely influential theory, which until recently gained widespread acceptance.

Prensky identifies two categories; Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, which I have explained in the graphic below:


However, Prenskys distinction between digital natives and digital immigrants is now outdated (Holton, 2010). Unfortunately, the idea is still accepted in some journal articles and used as an excuse for poor or ineffective teaching practices (Holton, 2010). It is also important to note that Prensky’s natives and immigrants pre-date new social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook which now control a large proportion of our internet usage.

So how should we categorise these two groups? David S. White and Alison Le Cornu propose the following two categories; Digital Visitors and Digital Residents which I will describe in the following graphic:

new-piktochart_27916502 (1)

White and Cornu believe that the Visitors and Residents categorisation describes the experiences of socio-internet engagement much more suitably than Prensky’s previous categorisation. The reason behind this, is their belief of the importance on the metaphor of place to provide an analytical framework, but also the moving away from Prensky’s understanding of language and accents.

The idea of ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’ is a continuum, not simply two binary opposites, a person can find themselves on both side of the scales. White explains this by mapping your online activity to place yourself somewhere on the continuum.

Below is an example of my mapped online usage, and shows how I see myself on both visitor/resident scale.



Word Count: 300


White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday16(9).


3 thoughts on “Intro Topic: Digital Visitors and Digital Residents

  1. Hi Nathaniel,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog and how you wrote it. I thought it was good how you defined both of Prensky’s definitions . As well as using the youtube link to explain in more detail.
    I also liked the image you used at the end to explain how you saw yourself as a visitor or a resident.
    what do you think it takes to move on from being a Digital Visitor to a Digital Resident?



    1. Hey Natalie,

      Thank you very much for your nice comments!
      To answer your question, unlike Prensky’s digital immigrants and digital natives where the latter are believed to have an ‘Accent’ affecting the way they use the internet. The digital visitors and resident debate revolves much more on it being a continuum, where one person can see themselves on both sides. So, I believe for someone of an older generation to find them on the digital resident side would mean that specific person would need an extended interest in the internet then rest of their age group, this could be a job heavily involved in technology such as coding, or they just have a lot of spare time!

      Thanks again,

      Liked by 1 person

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