Topic 1: Digital ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’

As I’m sure quite a lot of students will mention, Prensky (2001) has quite an out-dated concept of digital ‘natives’ and ‘immigrants’. What does he mean by this? Well, digital ‘natives’ would mostly consist of Generation Y students who are born into technology and therefore are more at ease with its complexities and constant updates. The ‘immigrants’  happen to the less-so fortunate who aim to understand it at a later time in life either by force or by choice. The two are distinguished by ‘immigrants’ who have a ‘digital accent’ where their first instinct wouldn’t be to go to the Internet and search, but rather use a primary source. They don’t leave a trace of their identity online as they don’t feel the need to be part of social media. This theory has been updated by White and Cornu (2011) by arguing that ‘immigrants’ are not as ‘technically handicapped’ as Prensky makes them out to be. Kennedy et al. (2010) and Connaway et al. (2013) challenge this: age is not a factor in digital usage and it’s more of a motivational factor than anything to become accustomed to the internet and its many aspects.

Selwyn (2009) challenges the theory that young people are digital “natives”, emphasizing that actually, younger generations need support with content creation and usage online. Selwyn also highlights the importance of context and circumstances in web use. Schools may consider it beneficial for students to access online content for work purposes (BlackBoard and Moodle being good examples as well as MOOCS) however at home, students are in a more “casual” environment and are more likely to build an online presence.

Personally, I would consider both my personal and professional life to be towards a Digital “Resident” profile. This was further confirmed when I watched Whites “Mapping” video. I don’t believe being a Digital ‘Visitor’ has anything to do with age though or gender. I think it’s entirely up to the person how they deal with such an intricate part of life. With regards to Tall blog (2008), I do use the web for a good amount of social online presence – I am on twitter, Facebook and use them accordingly to share things with friends and family. On reflection, what I’d like to gain from UOSM2008 is the chance to enhance my “Resident” profile in my professional life. LinkedIn has become a search page for jobs in recent years, with an online personal CV being able to be viewed by almost anyone. I hope to also gain a few twitter followers through the module seeing as this would be a nice course interaction activity 😉



6 thoughts on “Topic 1: Digital ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’

  1. Very interesting blog Vicky, however I do not think that White and Cornu’ s argument was made in order to claim that ‘ digital immigrants’ were not as handicapped as Prensky could think but rather to prove that the categorization of internet users between digital natives/immigrants is not really valid as the age factor shouldn’t be considered as the primary factor to classify people using the web.
    I really like the fact that you mentioned Selwyn as it allows us to better understand the notion of digital residents/visitors.


    1. Thanks for your comments Michele ! Yes, I take on board what you say about White and Cornu’s argument, I may have chosen the wrong wording to express my outlook. Sometimes I feel like factors such as age are so easy to pick up on when classifying digital residents and visitors because it seems like an “obvious” argument.
      Our generation is definitely more aware of online identity than perhaps others but I don’t think this prevents any age group in particular from interacting online. Our very own module coordinators have created this whole module online and they are older than us!


  2. Hi Vicky,
    I like the info you found from Selwyn, I think it links in nicely with what I posted about the use of technology in education. Don’t you think, as our generation has aged, the use of the internet has become increasingly normalised? I remember a time when broadband was completely new and exotic to us; only the more fortunate of our friendship group were able to reap its benefits for playing online games such as “Neopets”. I agree that students are more likely to develop an online presence for social and personal means, for example my younger sister is an avid user of Tumblr and Instagram (and won’t stop posting photos of herself on there…)
    Although I agree with you about gender, my opinion is that age may play a role in the digital literacy of an individual, therefore perhaps influencing them towards being more of a “visitor” than “resident”. Otherwise, where would we get memes like this!


    1. I do remember when I was younger and if you wanted to use the internet, you couldn’t if someone was on the phone! How times have changed! Ah yes, Neopets! Nowadays we’re on FarmVille and CandyCrush, but I guess that comes down to the evolution of the internet. When I was in Year 7 , everyone talked about their BEBO accounts and now that’s completely gone. A bit like MySpace. The big frontrunners are Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, sites which are constantly being innovative in order to attract more of an audience. Facebook has incoporated tweeting into its posts, it even bought Instagram too through the craze of selfies and I think it will be continue to be a big player in the social networking world.
      I really like the meme you posted, it reminds me a lot of when i teach my grandmother how to use a computer ! She was convinced once that her computer didn’t come with a space bar for a while! When you’re young, your brain is like a sponge and tends to absorb things much more quickly, whether that being computers, languages or other cultures. Digital identity is something younger people experience on a day to day basis due to the nature of school, university and various jobs whereas I think “residents” are more inclined (although not limited) to be slightly older as their generation didn’t identify with using complex software to execute a task for them.
      Just looking at this picture : makes you realize how far people have come from being residents to visitors!


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