What is the difference between  digital visitors and residents?


The main distinction that should be remembered is that it involves the level of engagement a person has with the virtual world.

In simple terms, visitors have low levels of engagement meaning that they do not wish to express themselves in the online culture, whereas residents seek out to voice their opinion, by sharing and commenting their thoughts while being active online.

Prensky´s described the difference further by using the words “tool” and “place” to understand how people use computer technology.

Visitors use the internet in a functional manner, as a “tool” to research information or to book holidays. Residents, on the other hand, use it socially, they create their own persona in the online world. It can be viewed as a “place” which gives the impression of being present with others.

While conducting further research I have come to find the metaphor of immigrants and natives and how age effects the use of technologies.

Natives are known as the generation that had the benefit of growing up with technology surrounding them such as computers and mobile phones, whereas the older generation had to learn it like a “second language”.

These terms can be supported by everyday scenarios that happen in your daily lives.

How often did you have to show your grandparents how to start their computer or to open up their browser until they understood it? Or how often did you set up accounts like skype for your parents or grandparents just because it would simply save you a lot of time.

It appears more natural to the younger generation for obvious reasons.uh-xs-fiztk-alexander-dummer-1

However, through my own personal experience I would like to add that yes I use the internet on a daily basis. As a university student it is a vital part of my day, but the question is am I using it as effectively as possible and to its fullest potential?

In the about me section of my blog I described myself as a passive observer who wishes to gain more technological skills by creating this blog. I am just learning now how to create my own online persona. Therefore in my opinion I would say that it might be difficult to categorise someone on either end of the spectrum.


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

White, D. S. Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’. TALL Blog, 23/07/2008.