The idea of a societal divide between generations due to technology was originally broached by Prensky (2001) with his proposal of “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants”. The “Natives” represent users who have grown up immersed in technology and alternatively, the “Immigrants” represent the older generations experiencing this technology in later life. The Natives have developed a greater utilisation of technology and how to process it whereas the Immigrants can learn but keep their (“accent“) out dated tendencies from before the digital age (Prensky, 2001). This argument has been countered, as it relies on the generalisation of generations that all young students have the same access to technology and understanding of it (Margarvan and Littlejohn; White and Cornu, 2011) leading to the adapted idea of “Visitors” and “Residents” (White and Cornu, 2011).
Here is a detailed explanation (White, 2014):
Visitors are people who use the internet as a tool, for example booking a holiday or researching, but don’t exist there. They tend not to put their identity online or participate in online culture; users will only go online given their need to. This is not a distinction due to skill or lack of, visitors are visitors by choice. They choose not to embed part of their social life online (TALL blog). The “accent” separating the generations (Prensky, 2001) is more about your ability to be independent learners, to critically think. It’s rather that than your technological background that divides the Visitors and Residents, not your generation. (Hopkins, 2012). The main difference is how people want to use the internet, not whether they can use it (Perskey, 2009).
Oppositely, Residents embed part of their life online, mainly their social life where they can create and maintain an identity through social media (TALL blog). It has been described as a park, where all their contacts reside and are easy to communicate with (White and Cornu, 2011). Residents use the tools of the internet as well as participating in the social culture. It can be seen as a sliding scale from personal to professional. Here is my own mapping on the scale:
We can switch between Visitor and Resident mode depending on our context, for what area of our life we are utilising the internet for (White, 2015). It’s important to note that as shown in the mapping above it’s impossible to be able to decide a mode purely from a tools function, as everybody uses tools differently (Jisc, 2014).
I personally identify as a Resident; I use facebook, twitter and instagram to maintain an online profile as well as using it as a tool for University.
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