Digital “Residents” and “Visitors”


Internet has been playing an increasingly important role in our day-to-day life. It has brought us a lot of benefits and what interesting is our online identity could be distinguished digital native and digital immigrant which is announced by Marc Prensky on ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’(2001). Prensky distinguishes native and immigrant through generation and thinks our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language because we born in a digital world and those who were not born into the digital world but have, called digital immigrants. He also thinks the importance of the distinction is digital immigrant always adapt to environment. They have “accent” therefore they always behind the native. Like parents always learn from their children the new language.

But Prensky’ point is too one-side. This much-criticised point has been replaced to “Visitors” and “residents” that gives a better expression to our online identity.


Residents usually make the internet as a part of life. Residents see the web as a place, perhaps like a park or a building in which there are friends whom they can approach and with whom they can share information about their life and work(White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L, 2011). They are people who have an persona online which they regularly maintain. They like sharing their life online, shopping online, search information online but they will also use the web to socialize and to express themselves. they often use the web in all aspects of their lives; professionally, for study and for recreation.(White, D. S, 2008) They regard web as a small world and spend lots of time to contribute their personality in this world.


Visitors usually use the web as a tool. They only use the web at specific time. They unlike residents spend much time on the web. They only want to gain want they want. For example, searching  information or booking tickets. They are sceptical of services that offer them the ability to put their identity online as don’t feel the need to express themselves by participating in online culture in the same manner as a Resident(White, D. S, 2008), therefore, they do not leave any social trace online. However, it doesn’t mean residents are use the internet better than visitors. Visitors might use any single service will be greater than residents.


Prensky, M. (2001) “Digital natives, digital immigrants,” On the Horizon, volume 9, number 5, [Online] Available at:,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf, Last Accessed 10th Oct 2016

White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).,%20Aslib%20Proceedings%202009.pdf

Online education with the University of Oxford. (2011).

Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’.


5 thoughts on “Digital “Residents” and “Visitors”

  1. Hi!
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post. It’s very informative in terms of explaining the distinction between a Resident and Visitor in lots of detail but also in a simplified and succinct manner, making it accessible for all audiences. It is evident that you have done research on the matter, which shows in your blog post and your wide range of references.
    It’s important to consider the idea that the visitor and resident terminology act as two ends of the spectrum, and while your descriptions show the extremes, people may lie on any point in the continuum between the two. I would be interested to see where you feel you fit along the continuum, and which side you would identify with and more; this is something you could discuss in your blog.
    I enjoyed your image that you chose to add to the blog post as it demonstrates the different uses the Web has, not only for social purposes, but also used in work and education
    Overall a great job


  2. Hello,

    I enjoyed reading your blog post and was drawn in by the colourful picture at the beginning of your article. You make some very interesting points and I especially liked the comparison of a digital ‘native’ speaking a new language, which digital ‘immigrants’ find hard to relate too. I also agree that Prensky’s ideology is too one sided but think there are elements within his work that are true to an extent.

    The only small criticism I would make is that a lot of your word count was used up talking about digital ‘natives’ and digital ‘immigrants’ and I would have been interested to hear more about your opinion to make the post more personal and original. I’d be interested to hear if you completely agree with White & Cornu over Prensky? Or do you think that both have elements which you can relate to?



  3. Hi Xiaolu,

    I really appreciated the approach you came at for tackling this blog post by analysing the difference between the, ‘Immigrants and Native’ and ‘Resident and Visitor’, theory. You made the distinction very clear and concise. It is clear you have researched these topics well and applied your knowledge using effective examples to explain each theory, and appropriate references. I like the sophistication of the layout and ease to read with the subheadings.

    However, I would say there could be more imagery used to engage the reader further, such as a ‘scale’ to show the range between the resident and visitor. What I would say is that you did only specify either end of the spectrum, not identifying that people may lie in-between, such as people who don’t control their twitter accounts? I would have liked to hear your opinion on where you lie on the continuum.
    Overall very interesting blog post.



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