Topic 1: Digital Residents and Digital Visitors

In recent years, technology has played a crucial role in the construction of society as we know it. Prensky (2001) delved deeper into this concept and offered the typologies of the ‘Digital Native’ and the ‘Digital Immigrant’. Although significantly outdated – and particularly criticised – he described the ‘Native’ as somebody who is completely at ease with the digital world (White and Cornu, 2011). This concept primarily refers to the younger generations who have grown up surrounded by technology, and who have thus developed different (and perhaps more efficient) ways of accessing and evaluating information. The ‘Immigrants’, on the other hand, are those who have experienced the digital world at a later stage in life – who have learnt to use and manage technology, but will never be fully competent (White and Cornu, 2011).

As aforementioned, Prensky’s accounts have been widely scrutinised despite their roots in offering a valid framework concerning the link between education and technology. One of the drawbacks of his conceptualisation was the fact that access to technology was not considered, along with many other social and cultural factors. Also, the broad generalisation based upon age was largely criticised (White and Cornu, 2011).

As a result of these critiques, Prensky’s ideas were extended and the notions of the digital ‘Resident’ and ‘Visitor’ were born. These built upon the accounts of the ‘Natives’ and the ‘Immigrants’ in the sense that they looked at how people used technology, rather than how well they used it (White and Cornu, 2008).

The digital ‘Visitor’ is described as the person who looks for a certain piece of information online, completes the task, and comes offline or begins a new task (White, 2011). In other words, they only use technology when the situation requires it. The digital ‘Resident’ is thus somebody who maintains an ‘online presence’, and uses the web in many aspects of their lives, typically in the form of social media accounts. From these definitions I can state with ease, my status as a digital ‘Resident’. Without overstating their usefulness, my social media accounts act as a significant (even predominant) route of contact for friends and family, hence my regular presence online.


Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants [Accessed 11 February 2017]

White. D and Cornu, A.L (2008): TALL Blog Post. Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’

White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. [Accessed 11 February 2017]

White, D. (2014) ‘Visitors & residents’, 9 September. Available at: [Accessed: 11 February 2017].

4 thoughts on “Topic 1: Digital Residents and Digital Visitors

  1. Hi Madeleine,

    Thank you for this post, it is certainly well researched and clearly written. I liked that you acknowledged the fact that technology plays a ‘crucial’ part in society; after all that is the main reason these typologies exist!

    I found the paragraph explaining the scrutiny of Prensky’s work to be highly informative. I particularly appreciated that you highlighted Prensky’s failure to acknowledge ‘access to technology’ where most people have failed to; you have clearly given this some thought. I also enjoyed reading your personal position in regards to Cornu and White’s continuum; I was able to relate and agree to your explanation.

    Having compared our posts, I see that we have similar viewpoints, therefore I’m interested to find out your opinion on the following question: As a digital resident, we leave behind a ‘digital footprint’ that makes it easy for employers and the Government to find out various information about us. With this in mind, is being a digital resident a positive thing?

    Look forward to your answer,



    1. Hi Faazila!
      Thanks so much for your kind comments. Having looked at your blog post I completely agree with you in that we have similar views! In answer to your question, I believe that being a digital resident is a positive thing, but to a certain degree. Like yourself, I am glued to my phone, but luckily I have been exposed to the right information and education, to know what is wise to post/share online and what is not. A negative aspect of regular online presence is the possibility of oversharing, or neglecting the element of privacy… which can have severe implications not only for future employment prospects, but also for the well-being of the resident when you consider the contemporary ‘troll’, or cyber bullying. I hope that serves as food for thought for your question!

      Thanks again 🙂


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