Are you a digital resident?

Our online identity can be perceived as one of two categories; a resident or a visitor. This is a view shared  by many such as Prensky (2001) who formulated this idea. To put it simply, a visitor is someone who may use the web to complete a task whereas a resident interacts with the web through both social media and other online channels. A current example of digital residents are those who are actively involved, via social media, with the campaigns behind the preferred brand for the union before the upcoming all student vote. Those who are visitors may read the campaigns but will not interact with them unlike a resident who may join the online conversation or share/tag/retweet to show their opinion.

Prensky’s ideas have been brought to light more with the research of White and Le Cornu (2011), who created the terms used today which are residents and natives. This theory supports the basis of Prensky’s however it disregards age  as a major factor affecting our use and understanding if the Internet. This is supported rightly, in my opinion, by research carried out by Bennett et al (2008) who point out that many young people from low socio-economic backgrounds have very limited access to technology. I support the theory of White and Le Cornu, as I believe that instead of categorising individuals there is a continuous scale  along which individuals can move.


There are however issues created by the rise of digital natives as seen by the cartoon above which illustrates that the world is becoming a less social place as people spend to spend more time online. On the other hand, there have been huge educational benefits as larger resource pools become more readily available with just the click of a button. The web is something, however, that is hard to ignore and is becoming pervasive in everyday life. Used by both old and young with the same skill, it is something that will continue to grow and become ever more prosaic in everyday life.

I have always been taught that online identity is important and can often be the key to forming a decision on someone’s personality. Two of my godparents work in IT/telecoms, and from an early age have instilled into me the importance of not only maintaining your online identity, but also in boosting it through tools such as LinkedIn and Path, where you can connect with people you know in a way which allows the accumulation of contacts within the business world. This is what compelled me to take this module and although blogging is a new skill to me, it is an ability that I now strive to develop in order to build my online presence.



Add yours →

  1. Hi Gus,

    Firstly I would like to start off by saying, I really like your blog site. Clean, easy to read and easy to navigate.

    I felt that you raised an interesting point about young people from low socio- economic backgrounds having very limited access to technology. These young people should technically be ‘digital natives’, having been born into the ‘tech era’, but are actually ‘digital residents’. This point echoes what I raised in my own blog – that it is relatively easy to find examples that don’t fit, and thus, making this theory a ‘non-theory’.

    Further down your blog post, you touch on the consequences of being a ‘digital native’. Studies show that, in developed countries, today’s generation have an increased risk of depression which is caused by social media pressures. Following this logic, I wonder if less developed countries then, have lower levels of depression because they are ‘digital residents’.

    Food for thought…



  2. Hello Gus,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your first blog. It was very interesting to have your own personal experience with the information your godparents have given you and your personal reasons for engaging online. You have written clear and well defined blog.

    You mentioned ‘young people with low socio-economic backgrounds having limited access to technology.’ However, you haven’t mentioned if you believe that young people in general have greater access and a better understanding of the internet due to the vast amount of access to technology in schools younger people have and whether they find it easier to learn than older people. Is this an area you find vital which Prensky has disregarded in his ideas?

    Finally, I would like to add, I thought it was great to incorporate your views on what is to happen in the future with the world become increasingly digitalised.

    Thank you,


  3. Hi Gus,

    As a fellow university student at Southampton, your example using the current union branding campaigns made the concepts of visitors and residents very easy to comprehend. I completely agree with you on your point about a decrease in social interaction due to technology; even though it is called “social media”, there is nothing very social about a bunch of people staring down at their screens. You do however show a balanced argument that technology does have lots of positive externalities in society. You are correct in saying that not only can you make a judgement on what an individual has presented to you on their social media; you can also make a judgement knowing that is what they are choosing to show to you. I feel sensible online identity does not have enough awareness and it is getting more important as technology advances quicker than ever.



  4. Hi Gus,
    As already mentioned above, your professional and easily navigable blog makes for a much more enjoyable and easy read. I really like your idea of having topic headings at the top of the page. With regards to the post, the mention of the student union vote was topical and made the concepts more relatable and effortless to understand. I appreciated how your personality came through in your writing while still maintaining the key concepts and facts. You seem to have actively tried to make reading your blog enjoyable with use of a relevant cartoon and experience from your own life to add to and back up the information. Furthermore, I liked how you went on to talk about the importance of online identity when acting as a digital resident as it branched out to other important topics. Overall a great read and I look forward to more.


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