Which are you – Digital Resident or Digital Visitor?

Marc Prensky coined the terms digital natives and digital immigrants and how the distinction between the two will become less relevant in the coming years.  “Natives” are those who grew up immersed in technology, referring to the younger generation, whereas “Immigrants” are the older generation who struggle to adapt to the network age as if “learning a new language“.

These terms have become frankly outdated, and David White claims this sets a dangerous precedent that the younger generation didn’t have to be taught how to use technology in ways other than checking your social media feed. Hence, the idea of Digital Residents and Digital Visitors  was brought about to reflect more on how an individual engages with the internet and for what purpose.

But what exactly are Digital Residents and Visitors? And which one do you fall into? The following video provides a brief explanation between the two:

Visitors use the internet purely for a specific purpose when they need it, but they don’t dwell there longer than necessary.

Residents, however, live a portion of their lives on the Internet and tend to have online personas which they regularly maintain.

Personally I use the Web for maintaining my Youtube channel, engaging with online communities and sharing ideas and information with those I have connected with. Putting these into the self-test I discovered myself to be more a Digital Resident, however this test wasn’t very descriptive of what exactly I do online. Therefore, to illustrate this I created a map using David White’s mapping tool:


I use the Internet for personal reasons and depending on the platform, I’m more a resident on some as opposed to other platforms such as LinkedIn and Skype. Hopefully in this module I can learn more about managing my online profile on more institutional applications.


Word Count: 300


Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), pp.1-6.

White, D. (2018). Visitors and Residents. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPOG3iThmRI&t=21s [Accessed 11 Feb. 2018].

White, D. and Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, [online] 16(9). Available at: http://firstmonday.org/article/view/3171/3049%20https://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~tefko/Courses/Zadar/Readings/Selwyn%20dig%20natives,%20Aslib%20Proceedings%202009.pdf [Accessed 10 Feb. 2018].

White, D. (n.d.). Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’. [Blog] Tall Blog. Available at: http://tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk/index.php/2008/07/23/not-natives-immigrants-but-visitors-residents/ [Accessed 10 Feb. 2018].





15 thoughts on “Which are you – Digital Resident or Digital Visitor?

  1. Hi Adrian,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post. You outlined the different terms really clearly and gave me a deeper understanding of the overall theory you were looking at. I agree that the term native and immigrants are outdated and also see that White’s model is much more relevant as it considers the purposes and the context the individual uses the internet for. You asked your readers the question of which category they fall into, I see myself more in the middle as both visitor and resident in different contexts. I see that you view yourself as more of a digital resident. I think its really great that you can maintain a youtube channel and engage in online communities. I also really liked seeing your map and that has inspired me to do my own! I was wondering if you see any negative sides of being a digital resident? Although I think its great to have all those digital skills, I am aware that there is a counter argument of people living and relying on the online world too much, there must be some negative sides to being a “resident” online instead of in the real world – what are your thoughts on this?

    Looking forward to hearing back from you!



    1. Hi Phoebe, thanks I’m glad you liked the post! Concerning negatives to being a digital resident, I would say potentially being too engrossed in online communities can be damaging depending on the type of community you interact with. For example if you spend all your time on Twitter daily, depending on who you follow this can easily influence you because all you will see are those opinions and ideas. In Online Social Networks last year I learnt that you can easily be cut off from information in other networks that don’t directly connect to your own so maybe that is a possible negative.


  2. Hi Adrian,

    I thought your first blog post was interesting, and that you made good use of the diagram showing White’s continuum of resident to visitor. Do you think there is a grey area with the terms residents as visitors? I conducted the self-test and found that I was closer to visitor, however as you pointed out, a visitor uses the internet for a purpose and wont dwell there longer than necessary, whereas a resident has an online persona which they regularly maintain. I however often find myself browsing the internet for hours without any real purpose, as well as not regularly maintaining an online persona; meaning I don’t fall into the resident category either.

    I found the point in the video made about the types of online activity being linked to our persona and us residing as individuals online an interesting one.

    Do you think the younger generation has a duty to help the older generation better understand the internet?



    1. Hi Will, glad you liked it! I would say you are right in you don’t fall into either category, as most people do not anyway. They aren’t two mutually exclusive categories but more a continuum which you can exist somewhere in the middle.

      Personally I don’t think the younger generation have a duty to the older generation but the more digitally literate members of society owe it to those who don’t. Otherwise we fall into the thinking of “young people know technology” and “old people don’t”.


  3. Hi Adrian,

    I really enjoyed your blog, the layout was clear and the use of a video really helped to clarify the concept of digital visitors and residents. I also liked that you mapped yourself on the mapping tool and I found it interesting that you considered yourself as a visitor on Instagram.
    I noticed that you identified yourself as more on the digital resident side of the spectrum. You also have a Youtube channel, was there a time when you felt like more of a visitor? Has coming to university made you more of a resident on certain platforms than before?



    1. Hi Tewsdae, thanks for commenting! Glad you like it.

      What do you mean was there a time I felt more like a visitor? Are you referring to Youtube? If so then I would say when I first started using it or before I made an account, but when I made my channel and started interacting with other channels and engaging in their communities I became more of a resident.

      I would say I became more of a resident on Discord as I came to University because before I wasn’t interested but as I started gaming more and more and found more people to play with it became almost a necessity!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Adrian,

    I love your use of multimedia, as someone whose day is largely carried out online, the different uses of video and diagrams was engaging.

    White and Cornu describe Residents as those who tend to belong to a community. You mentioned your Youtube channel which I commend you for hosting, I wondered how you feel your online presence and perspective on what you speak about has shaped or even impacted the online community you belong to.

    Further, to what extent do you feel you have a relationship with your subscribers?

    Check out the residents section for more understanding:

    Jeremy 🙂


    1. HI Jeremy, thanks for commenting!

      I’m not sure it has a great impact on the gaming community as a whole as I’m still a very small Youtuber. But I think that with the community I have of 120 subscribers I do influence them and I get people telling me how much they like and appreciate the videos that I make. I feel my relationship with my subscribers is still growing and I want to get to a point where they understand me and I understand a bit about them to build a stronger and more friendly community.


  5. May I just say what a cpmfort to uncover somebody that genuinely understands what tyey
    are discussing over the internet. Yoou certainly realize how to
    bring an issue to light aand make iit important.
    More people have to read this and understand thiis
    sde of your story. It’s surprising you are not more popular since
    you definitely have the gift.

    situs judi


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s