Natives and Immigrants to Residents and Visitors
Digital residents and visitors ideas stem from the theory of natives and immigrants, proposed by Prensky in 2001, based on the idea that as current young generations have spent their lives growing up immersed in technology, they are ‘natives’ to the digital world, whereas older generations are ‘immigrants’ as they have to adopt new practices in the digital age (Prensky, 2001). However this idea of age having a strong influence on your online presence has since been replaced with the resident vs visitor idea (White and Cornu, 2011). The transition of these ideas is explained in this video (White, 2014).
This alternative theory is instead focused on our engagement with the internet, and we are on a sliding scale when it comes to our use of the internet, dependent on the task and services that are being used (Clark, 2015), which can be seen in the image below (TALL blog, 2014).
On one end are the visitors, acessing the digital world at set times, rather than having a constant presence (TALL blog). They are likely to use things like Skype and emails, but are less likely to use services like Facebook and Twitter (White and Cornu, 2011) as they view the digital world as a tool to complete tasks, rather than somewhere that they wish to have their own identity and constant presence. Someone I identify as a digital visitor is my mum, who uses Skype now that I am at university, as well as booking concert tickets online, but that is as far as her online identity goes. Whenever we suggest that she should join the world of Facebook it’s met with uncertainty and refusal, as she isn’t trusting of the identity that you can create online, which is common among visitors (TALL blog).
Residents in comparison have a strong digital presence, and are likely to use it in many aspects of their lives, as they instead see it as a place, where they can spend time with other users, extend relationships and create their own identity (White and Cornu, 2011). In line with the native/immigrant theory, it is true that the majority of online residents that I know are of my generation, however some of my family, such as my grandma, joined services such as Facebook and Twitter before I did, showing clearly age isn’t the only factor affecting our relationship with the digital world.
Prenksy, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon. MCB University Press, 9(5).
White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement.First Monday, 16(9).
White, D.S. Visitors & Residents
White, D.S. (2014) Visitors and Residents
Clark, I. (2015) Visitors and Residents: Understanding Digital Behaviours
University of Oxford TALL Blog. Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’
University of Oxford TALL Blog (2014). What exactly are your students up to online?
Harris, L. Warren, L. Leah, J.and Ashleigh, M. (2010) Small steps across the chasm: ideas for embedding a culture of open education in the university sector. In Education http://ineducation.ca Technology & Social Media (Special Issue, Part 2), , 16 , (1)