Who exactly are digital “visitors” and “residents”?

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Digital visitors and residents. Who exactly are they? Is there really any exact definition of each of the terms?

I really enjoyed the readings of David White (2008) and Marc Prensky (2001) who both took different approaches to the topic.


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Meet Patrick. Don’t judge alright. He could be the next Channing Tatum. Anyway, Patrick is only 9 years old, and already owns his own personal laptop! LIKEEE WHAT?? EXCUSE ME?! I got my own personal laptop only when I entered polytechnic, so that was about the age of 17…. Patrick spends most of his time online and on his phone updating his status on twitter and following his tight schedule of selfies to be uploaded everyday at 9am, 12pm and 6pm. I’m just kidding. There can’t be people out there who are really like this right? You never know. The digital visitor, according to David White, is someone who “lives  a percentage of their lives online”. “They often use the web in all aspects of their lives; professionally, for study and for recreation.” The  first people I think of when thinking of all these signs? YOUTUBERS AND BLOGGERS.


According to David White, digital visitors are the ones who “uses the web as a tool in an organised manner whenever the need arises.” and “Often the Visitor puts aside a specific time to go online…”. That sounds very much like my mother, whom ever since my sisters and I taught her how to use google, sets aside a time everyday before she goes to bed to read up on the thousands of questions that she has and where google is the only one who has the patience for all of them. (MUMMY, I LOVE YOU.)


It seems to be that digital visitors and digital residents are not simply those who are in the older generation and younger generation respectively (as Marc Prensky calls them – “digital natives” and “digital immigrants”.) I personally agree more with David White. Many a times, I see a lot of older people who are able to adapt to technology and better able to maintain a online persona than myself, who is supposingly supposed to be more “native” digitally. After all, technology is always changing and we are all learning. I personally feel that being a resident or visitor is more of on a scale of 1-5, whereby it is a lot of the times more of a personal choice of where we choose to be on a scale. For people like me, I could be “expected” to be a resident but however choose to be a “visitor” just because I choose not to, or because I’m just an awkward pod.

But one thing which I think is still the biggest issue in this topic is not on coming up with an exact definition for the two, but rather in what ways are we able to most accurately find out who belong to which group. What do you guys think?





TALL blog » Blog Archive » Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’. 2008 [ONLINE] Available at: http://tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk/index.php/2008/07/23/not-natives-immigrants-but-visitors-residents/. [Accessed 27 November 2014].

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants 2001 . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf. [Accessed 27 November 2014].

Other links I have used for my own reading:



5 thoughts on “Who exactly are digital “visitors” and “residents”?

  1. Hi Charmaine!

    I had a great time reading your post on Digital residents and visitors! After reading your view on digital residents, I realised this is how most people are turning out to be like! Many times I’ve seen parents leaving their child or toddler alone with an iPad, even my own cousin is pacified by an iPad to watch shows and play games? When I was younger, I used my imagination to keep myself entertained and always play outdoors in the sun. Now it seems that many children spend their time “playing together” with their friends behind a screen. How do you think this will affect them in the long run? Do you think that there are pros and cons of being a resident or visitor?

    I agree with you that we shouldn’t just place people based on the two categories, either being a resident or a visitor. I personally believe that there are more to just those 2, there could be those that are residents for work and become a visitor once their shifts are over!

    And I love how you and your Sister taught your Mom how to use Google, I’ve done the same thing to my Mom and now she’s having a much easier time finding books to read 🙂

    Yu Ting 😀


    • Hi Yu Ting!!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post :’)
      I remember we had a chat that day talking about kids nowadays with their Ipads and how we personally feel that they are missing out on so much because when we were their age we would be going out to play catching with our friends or finding more creative ways in order to kill time other than just staying home and being stuck on our television, internet and phone screens. I personally feel that being stuck on the internet for too long will definitely have an affect on the children, especially since they may be choosing to stay home and interact less face-to-face with their peers and family members. You know how these days we have been noticing more people using their phones than talking and conversing with each other at the dinner table? I think this is one way that may affect these children. They will be so used to doing everything online that they might even be lost in their own ‘real’ identity and be unable to get out of their online ‘persona’. This is quite worrying and I believe that everything should be in moderation so it’s still up to the parents to teach their children correctly.

      Personally, I think that there are both pros and cons to both being a resident or a visitor, but that does not mean being one makes you lousier than the other. I think there are bound to be both residents and visitors in today’s world, especially since I feel that being either one is more of a personal choice. Residents like youtubers and bloggers, they will be able to earn money while doing the thing that they enjoy doing, while visitors who choose to be visitors can also benefit as not having to maintain an online persona will mean that we will have more time for other activities that they enjoy and really love doing. In my blogpost, I said that being a resident or visitor should be more on a scale of 1-5 and in this case I feel that we should all aim to be a 3 as it is the perfect balance of both. As marketers in this digital age we do need to be able to use the internet to connect with others and especially our customers but also as human beings we should also maintain a balance by knowing that when it is time to be at the dinner table, it is time to put away our phone, and nothing else matters except for the moment where you can finally spend time with your friends and family.

      Hope I answered your question! Thank you for your comment once again! 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Charmaine! Your post is very entertaining! It was a pleasant visit (:

    I guess we all are the “online teachers” for our moms! HAHAHA. I totally agree with you that the biggest issue is not about exact definition for the two positions, but the accuracy of who belong to which group. While doing this topic, it was kind of easy at first writing about definitions but when moving on to categorizing it seems to have abit of confusion. Especially when we still have the general assumption and concept of “the younger generation just does it better”.

    Overall, it was a pleasant visit to your blog. Keep it up (:

    P/s: I cannot find the comment box or button in your blog itself. Have to access the comment box through the module main blog. Perhaps you could include it in your settings next time! (:


  3. Hi Charmaine!

    I really like the example you gave on Patrick and how you related it to yourself! I got my first mobile device when I was 16. I’m glad to read that you too feel that Prenzsky’s classification of technology users is somewhat too ‘sweeping’. I agree that older people may sometimes turn to out to be more avid users of technology than us, the so called digital natives. My mother for instance, is an expert with candy crush and she is now at level 300. She is now designing her own mobile app which is able to foretell how long more a particular bus service would arrive to the bus stop outside our house. I feel ashamed of myself haha!

    Finally, you struck a right chord when you mentioned that you could ‘choose’ to be a resident but would rather live as a visitor. Can we choose? of course we can! because it is all about motivation and values! Meaningful article! http://benjaminouyang.com/2014/11/28/reflective-summary-response-to-question-1/


    • Thank you so much for your comment Benjamin!! Your mother is so cool and awesome!! My mother on the other hand is the total opposite and often needs help with any gadget in the household! However, she is making tiny progress and she can now finally text the family through whatsapp! This may seem trivial but to her it’s such a big step! So yes, definitely all about the motivation to learn and the value of keeping yourself up to date with the latest techonology! I wonder how we will be like when we are much older! I probably can’t be bothered to catch up and just lay on my couch all day being a chill granny!! Hahahaha!

      Once again, thank you so much for your time to read my post and comment on it!




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