Topic 1 : The concept of digital ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’

Explain the concept of digital “visitors” and “residents” drawing upon your reading and your own online experiences to date in support of the points that you make.

The concept of digital ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ is one that has evolved from digital ‘natives’ and ‘immigrants’. Digital ‘natives’ are those who have been born into the digital age and have an innate instinct to be comfortable with technology (Boyd, V, 2013, a). Whereas digital ‘immigrants’ were born before 1980 according to Prensky, and they are required to actively develop technological confidence through learning (Boyd, V, 2013, b).

The concept that of ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ has been modernised to take into consideration the criticism that has embodied the digital ‘natives’ and ‘immigrants’.

A digital ‘resident’ lives a proportion of his or her life online. Residents will take part in many online activities, from social networking to online shopping to professional study. Residents create an online persona in which they can maintain and use as a platform to communicate their opinions and share aspects of their personal lives, through images and commenting/blogging (White, 2011)

A ‘visitor’ is someone who uses the Internet more as a tool for a specific purpose when the need arises, for example to research a specific topic or to book a holiday.

The digital ‘resident’ and ‘visitor’ theory is more applicable as it excludes age playing a role in an individual’s technology capability, as evidence has shown that there is expertise and lack of technological skills at all ages. There are many people today who would be classified as a digital ‘resident’ and is over 50 years old. For example many businessmen and women have blogs, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter and Facebook accounts and can use them just as efficiently as younger individuals who would have fallen into the digital ‘native’ category.

Personally I am a digital ‘resident’. Having Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts I regularly spend time online communicating with friends and trying to build a business profile. I take part in online banking and shopping, where I have accounts with many retailers such as Asos and Topshop. Having an account with Netflix allows me to watch TV programs and films online as well, making my online experience very well rounded, from socializing to studying.

‘Residents’ compared to ‘visitors’ do not necessarily have to be more confidant online. It is simply considered that a ‘resident’ has a presence online in which they maintain and develop pleasantly, whereas a ‘visitor’ has a set task to carry out online and once it is complete they see no need to remain online.

This concept is not two clearly defined categories, in actual fact the majority of people will use a combination of visitor modes and resident modes, working as a continuum.



Boyd, V. (2013). Natives, immigrants, residents or visitors? Developing a student-led understanding of the role of digital literacies in the curriculum. Available:—developing-a-student-led-understanding-of-the-role-of-digital-literacies-in-the-curriculum.pdf?sfvrsn=4. Last accessed 5th Feb 2015.

White, D. (2011). Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’. [Blog] Finding the useful in technology. Available at: [Accessed 5 Feb. 2015].


2 thoughts on “Topic 1 : The concept of digital ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’

  1. Your definition of both digital ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ is really clear. Like yourself, I would also consider myself to be a digital resident – my social life is both online and offline. I use Facebook to stay in contact with family and friends (particularly when distance is a factor), to express opinions and to share content.

    I was wondering if you consider digital ‘residency’ to be an issue? When the blurring of boundaries between online and offline social lives stops residents from ‘switching off’ from the internet? I already notice that one of the first things I do in the morning and one of the last things I do at night is check my iPhone! I’ve recently noticed a rise in digital ‘detox’ holidays, and The Telegraph has even predicted it as a 2015 trend to provide these detox areas in the workplace. I’d be interested in reading what you think.!about/ceu8


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