Topic 1: Digital ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’

The current age of society is heavily technology based. There is often a large divide between generations of those who have grown up using technology and those who have just become accustomed to using it. Prensky details this as the idea of “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants” (Prensky, 2001). The concept behind this is that today’s generation has grown up with technology around them, and through this has developed a far different way of processing information and utilising technology – they are the “Natives”. Conversely, there are those who only come into the digital age at a later point of their lives; they are the “Immigrants”.

Word cloud of Prensky’s Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (2001),

Whilst it seems to be a concept that makes sense, it is one that has been scrutinised and heavily criticised by others. A key component in Prensky’s analogy is the age discrepancy that causes the rift between generations’ competency in using technology. What he fails to consider is that not everyone has the same level access to technology. Research evidence has revealed that while ‘a proportion of young people are highly adept with technology … there also appears to be a significant proportion of young people who do not have the levels of access or technology skills predicted by proponents of the digital native idea.’ (Bennet, et al. 2008)

Due to this, a new analogy was proposed: digital “visitors” and “residents”. This concept is based largely on how someone uses technology, rather than how competent they are at using it.

Digital visitors can be viewed as someone who uses technology like a tool, only visiting it in times of need and leaving it behind once they are done. While they may use it very little, or often, they are unlikely to leave any sort of identity behind on the Web, preferring to remain anonymous (White, 2011).

On the other hand, digital residents “reside” on the Web. For them, they are happy to conduct social and personal communication through the Internet, living a proportion of their lives with others online (White, 2011).

When I consider my own online presence, I am very much a digital resident. I use the Internet as one of my main communication methods, easily reaching people who I might not see every day. In addition, I am also able to be in communities who all share the same space, despite living far apart offline.


Bennett, Sue, Maton, Karl, & Kervin, Lisa (2008). The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39 (5) [Accessed 10 February 2017]

Prensky, Marc, (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. [Accessed 10 February 2017]

Prensky, Marc (2001). Do They Really Think Differently? [Accessed 10 February 2017]

Prensky, Marc (2001). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom [Accessed 10 February 2017]

White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9) [Accessed 10 February 2017]

White, David, (2014). Evaluating digital services: a visitors and residents approach [Accessed 17 February 2017]


Hi everyone! My name is Andy, currently a student at the University of Southampton. I have set up this blog to reflect on topics outlined in one of the modules I have taken this semester: UOSM2008 – Living and Working on the Web. Topics will relate to the online world we live in, and the identities that we present ourselves as on the web.

Rating at start of module Comments Rating at end of module Comments
Accessing, managing and evaluating online information  3  As an English student, finding references include both offline and online texts. Over time it is necessary to become well-versed in the evaluation of what is useful regarding the topic at hand.
Participating in online communities  3  While I don’t have a lot of communities online site-wise, there are various groups on Facebook that I participate in regularly, each pertaining to different interests.
Building online networks around an area of interest  2  While part of a variety of online networks, I find it hard to build up my own network around me.
Collaborating with others on shared projects  2  Having done group projects before, I can say that I am able to collaborate with others towards a mutual goal, however I much prefer working by myself.
Creating online materials (text, audio, images, video)  3  I have mainly used Adobe Photoshop in editing/drawing, and have also used audio/video editing software. I have limited knowledge on this however, only having done a few things before.
Managing your online identity  2  I have a limited online identity, most of which is on Facebook as the main social media platform I use. I feel that I could benefit in broadening the areas that I have a presence in.
Managing your online privacy and security  3  While I maintain security and privacy settings on Facebook, I realise that there are other platforms which I don’t have full privacy control over.

So why did I choose this module? 
As an English Lit student, I felt that as times change, so do the ways of literature. More and more often, you find people self-publishing novels, creating stories online, or – funnily enough – publishing blogs. In a technologically advancing world, I think that it’s important to keep up, and therefore to learn how to better manage an online presence on the web.

What in particular do I want to learn?
As mentioned above, I want to learn how to manage my online identity in order to make it the best it can be. In a world where people can find friends just based on a name, it has to be kept in mind what exactly people can find of you.

Which degree programme am I studying?
English Lit – just slightly different from this module, but overall I think they can hugely benefit each other.

Have you studied online before?
Not at all! This is the first time in which I won’t be studying outside of a computer; I must say as an English student this is quite the difference!