Digital immigrants and Digital Natives Vs. Visitors and Residents

I just read the blog of David White who has come up with a counter theory to Marc Prensky’s ‘Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants’ called ‘Visitors and Residents’. His research was a JISC funded Isthmus project which focused on how Oxford University students use technologt.

He suggests that ‘residents’ are the people/students who spend most of their time on the internet and “The web supports the projection of their identity and facilitates relationships. These are people who have an persona online which they regularly maintain.” He discribes the ‘visitor’ as “The Visitor is an individual who uses the web as a tool in an organised manner whenever the need arises.” But what he seems to miss out are the people who are completly uninterested in the internet – wheather it is to do with finance, uninterest or the lack of ability, and agreed the visitors or the people who are untrested are the over 55’s. He also suggest that the under 25’s are the residents – but what happens to the people who slot in between the age gaps?; the people inbetween 25 and 55? I believe that this is mixed; people who can/do and people who cant/don’t, although I have no prof this is true.

This research is quite reliable and unusual because most research on digital technology has some notion on exact ages where this one doesn’t. The problem, in my opinon, in this is technology is constantly evolving and changing so each age group are going to be using newer technology. For example, I was on the bus the other day and it was just about the time that the local secondary schools were coming home and a boy sat next to me. I was on my phone, which isnt half bad by the way, and the boy, who must have been about twelve years old, had a better (more technologically advanced) phone than me. He had a Iphone 4S. Firstly, why do children of this age need this technology; they cant need to use all of its features. Secondly, was the product really aimed at his age group? Lastly, where is he getting the money to buy/get the contract for this? Is it because we are getting more technologically aware at a younger age; are we growing up faster; or are children trying to keep up to the latest trends and fashions. I think this has always been around, and how bad the ression gets, we will still have the money for this technology. This means that this boy probably knows more about how to use these ‘gadgets’ better than I do, and I’m not that much older than him – I’m only 18. But do I know more about these technologies more than maybe, my older brother, or my lecturers know about it? You cant generalise because I may know more at one peice of technology or software, and someone else older or younger than me may know more about another.

What is the boundries between the visitor and the resident – how much time needs to be spent and how often because I know some period of times/weeks that I spend more time online than others, simply because I have more time some weeks than others. Also, as more activities that I become involved in, such as blogging and the Student Interactive Resource website that I am involved in, the more time I will spend online.

David White also suggests that “The Resident is likely to have arranged some sort of system to manage the relationship between services and the flow of information through their browser but this does not mean that they will be any more effective at researching a specific topic than a Visitor”. So is time the only distinction?

The research is on his blog, ‘the tall blog’, is this a reliable source? As Web 2.0 and the information society are kicking in and the age of Web 3.0 can be seen places like blogs and wikis are increasingly becoming more and more trusted. This is probably because the increase of communication that is happening by the user being able to edit or comment to improve the information given. When this finally proceeds to Web x.0, as predicted, we could be run entirely without the ‘professionals’ who write the books today and live with information from ordinary people who know little bits about different subjects.

It seemed to me a much less generalised article, although information was only found by one research source.

In conclusion, find this really interesting to think about the distinction between the two counter arguments of digital natives and digital immigrants vs Visitors and Residents. I believe that Visitors and Residents seems to be the one that was the most integrated to technological life today and best represented the different groups of people. On the other hand, the digital immigrants and digital natives argument also has a lot to offer in terms of how our technology is used today. I dont think their ever will be the perfect way to describe our use of technology and Web 2.0 technology because it is always changing and therefore our use is always changing. Lastly, technology and the web will always be individual to the user.


Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’ [online] [accessed 29th January 2012]

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants By Marc Prensky (2001) [PDF Online],%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf [Accessed 22nd January 2012]