A digital native is someone that is just one amongst the Net Generation. This is the younger age group that have been born into the digital era and, therefore, their inherent ‘tech-savvy-ness’ allows them to thoroughly know how to utilise all corners of the Internet to fully immerse their ‘real life’ selves into a social and professional pixilated format (Bennett, Maton & Kervin, 2008). Vojvodic (2014) hauntingly depicts a digital native in her artwork in Figure 1 – an unborn foetus already getting wired up to join the Net Generation. On the other hand, digital immigrants are generally the older generation who have had to learn to integrate advanced technologies into their pre-existing lives, and have been said to have found this online realm complex. However, after much speculation, it is widely appreciated that these generalisations have not been rooted from any empirical evidence (Hargittai, 2010).
As White and Le Cornu (2011) explained, the more newly coined terms digital ‘resident’ and ‘visitor’ take away from the notion of somehow being more or less connected to the online world via generation or background, and instead recognises the mutual ability of being digitally fluent. Digital fluency acknowledges how both residents and visitors are able to engage with their chosen online environments appropriately (Wang, Myers & Sundaram, 2013), whether that may be socially, leisurely or professionally.
On first glance, I would have called myself a digital resident – I’m surgically attached to my smart phone and tablet, keeping up to date with different online platforms. However, just because I use social media prolifically, it doesn’t necessarily mean I use it to forward myself professionally. Yes, I grew up alongside the internet, but I would say that a lot of my life is still offline. So perhaps this currently makes me stray somewhere in the middle of being a digital resident and visitor. I am an avid Internet user: I know how to abuse Google Scholar for it’s worth and can spend hours browsing pointless Youtube videos, but I definitely do not use the web to its full potential.
The Internet offers a huge array of resources that can be used to build a strong online presence. So to begin my journey into becoming a true digital resident, I created an about.me profile (click here). Over the upcoming weeks, I will use about.me to act as a hub for all my online activity.
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Bennett, S., Maton, K. & Kervin, L., 2008. The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence, British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), p.775-786.
Hargittai, E., Digital Na(t)ives? Variation in internet skills and uses among members of the “net Generation”, Sociological Inquiry, 80(1), p.92-113.
Wang, Q., Myers, M. D. & Sundaram, D., 2013. Digital natives and digital immigrants: Towards a model of digital fluency, Business and Information Systems Engineering, 5(6), p.409-419.
White, D. S. & Le Cornu, A., 2011. Visitors and Residents :A new typology for online engagement, First Monday, 16(9).
Figure 1: Vojvodic, B., 2014. Digital Native. [acrylic on canvas] <Available at: http://www.bojanavojvodic.blogspot.co.uk/#!http://bojanavojvodic.blogspot.com/2014/03/digital-native-2014-acrylic-on-canvas.html> [Accessed 5th February 2015]