The main concept of digital ‘residents’ and ‘visitors’ were to categorise web users into how they utilised and accessed the web. Prensky’s (2001) theories believed that students growing up in the new technological age were the digital ‘residents’. The rest, who were left to learn new skills, became the ‘visitors’, these users had to adapt to technologies replacing traditional systems.

Digital ‘visitors’ are users who access the web as a tool and have a specific reason for going online. They put aside time in the day to do tasks such as online banking, booking holidays, and surfing the web, as they are weary of using social networking sites because of the security and identify theft problems. These are usually users who have had to develop digital literacy.

Digital ‘residents’ are essentially users that spend their life on the web. The same as digital visitors who use the web for practical uses but additionally for socialising. These are users who constantly need to update and maintain their online presence by interacting with friends, family and colleagues through social media to have a sense of community online. However, unlike digital visitors, these users leave a digital footprint after they go offline due to social media, blogs and comments left.

Nevertheless, users won’t find themselves belonging to one end of the continuum; they will be spread across the scale. This is because digital visitors are able to develop their digital literacy skills and start using the web more for than practical uses, whereas digital residents may use the web more but may not feel the need to be constantly updating their social networking sites. You can see how fitting this is by looking at We are Social’s Global Digital Statistics Shot for 2015-2016, with an 8.7% increase in social media users meaning more digital visitor users are adapting and warming to social media websites.

After researching and analysing Prensky’s theory, I think it’s becoming unfitting to categorise the two groups into age, as the older generations are quickly learning new digital literacy skills, which enables them to become more than just digital visitors and moves them across the continuum. Equally, I personally know users of the younger generation who do not like using the web as much as it is portrayed, as they prefer to interact with people face-to-face. The global use of the web is developing and Prensky’s theory is becoming out of date.


and, D.W.S. (2012) Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16 (9). Available from:,%20Aslib%20Proceedings%202009.pdf#p2 [Accessed 12 October 2016].

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital natives, digital immigrants. From On the Horizon, 9 (5). Available from:,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf [Accessed 14 October 2016].

President, S.V. (2016) UK: Facebook user distribution by age 2016 | statistic. Available from: [Accessed 15 October 2016].