Topic 1: Digital Visitors and Residents

Digital “Visitors” and “Residents”

Rapid developments and use of digital technologies have defined the ways in which individuals use, interact and shape their digital world (ZDNet, 2007).

It is believed that the emergence of ubiquitous digital environments have come to shape how we engage with the web.

Digital “visitors” and “residents” was introduced by White and Le Cornu (2011), as a replacement for Prensky’s generational divided terms; “Digital Native” and “Digital Immigrant” (McKenzie, 2007).

“Digital Native” – Individual born into the ‘digital age’/ Accustomed to the developing and interactive digital world/ Considered skilled users.

digital native immigrant

“Digital Immigrant” – Individual born before the ‘digital age’. They adapt to new technology, as a replacement to their old ‘accent’ of ‘pre-digital’

What next?

While I originally favoured Prensky’s “Native” and “Immigrant” concepts for online behaviour, I now see these as a  foundation for the more widely accepted terms of “Visitors” and “Residents”.

“Visitors” and “Residents” concept has a more developed/open spectrum in identifying individuals online engagement with the web:

“Digital Visitor” – Individual who sees the web as an option to perform a task and unlikely to have a prominent and active online presence/ identity.

Visitors are ‘web users’ rather than ‘web members’. They see little involvement /need to have an online identity (White, 2011).

Visitors and Residents continuum, White and Le Cornu (2011)(White & Le Cornu, 2011)

“Digital Resident” – Individual who sees the web as a primary option to perform a task/ build an online identity.

Likely to have a prominent and active online presence used across their online communities.

‘Residents’ see relationships and knowledge created and used on the web.

Active ‘web members’ and are greatly involved in developing and enhancing their online identity (White, 2011).

My experience:

I would pinpoint my online engagement as a ‘Resident’, since I use and communicate in social networks. I regularly use the internet for recreational purposes and academic research.

YET, my professional profile is on the “Visitor” end, since my professional identity has only begun in my recent LinkedIn account.

My understanding of the “Visitor” module, is heightened by the flaw that suggests ‘visitors’ being less digitally skilled, as they are infrequent web users. In my experiences, infrequent online existence does not define an individual as less digitally skilled, but perhaps personal reluctance OR more open and susceptible to other non-digital options.

Overall, it is clear to say that the ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ concept is not solidified solely to one defining concept. It rather portrays a complex and unique spectrum, defining an individual uniquely on their purposes of using and engaging in social and professional activities. Thus, this will inevitably refine how users engage with digital technology.


1. Mckenzie, J. (2007) ‘Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions and Digital Deprivation’. From Now On, the educational technology journal, 17 (2), [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 07 October 2014]

2. Prensky, M. (2012) ‘From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful essays for 21st century learning’, London, SAGE Publications.

3. White, D., and Le Cornu, A,L. (2011) ‘Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement’. First Monday, 16 (9), [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 08 October 2014]

4. ZDNet. (2007) ‘Businesses warned: Be ready for digital natives’, [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 07 October 2014]

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *