Was I born online?

digi nativeFigure 1

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.

Word Count: 399


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&gt; [Accessed 5th February 2015]


7 thoughts on “Was I born online?

  1. A very well documented and theoretical approach to the debate over digital visitor and resident. I particularly like the image from Vojvodic (2014) as it speaks a thousand words. Just as the foetus is depicted as an extension of a circuit board, our increasingly sterile, man-made technological landscape may encourage over attachment to our technology.

    Another interesting point you make relates to limiting our own use of technology. In Western society, it is becoming common for over-usage of technology to be stigmatised, and also seen as perhaps a ‘social ill’. If our technology usage increases in our professional lives, our ability to limit our own personal usage may be hindered. As you say, the internet has a vast array of resources on offer, which is why it is important to filter and manage our online behaviour to yield the greatest benefits.


  2. Hey! Worryingly I really like the image you used by Vojvodic, as I think its true! I have a five year old niece who is definitely more knowledgeable with an iPad than I am. Nowadays, children are more comfortable with learning through an app than they are with traditional teaching methods.
    I also like where you talk about Digital Fluency as I think its a nice term to illustrate how visitors and residents interact on the web. It’s not so much about how often they interact or how many platforms they interact with, but more so how able they are to engage with their online environments.

    Even though you state that you may not be 100% a resident, I think the majority of us actually are, as we are subconsciously improving ourselves professionally through our openness to expand our knowledge, whether this is through Google Scholars or a makeup tutorial on Youtube!


  3. I found the Vojvodic picture hauntingly accurate, but what it actually did was make me really think about what relationship future generations will have with the web, social media and technology. As Nicole said above, her 5 year old niece is more proficient with the iPad than she is and this is definitely something I’ve seen with younger family members; although we’ve grown up around technology, we haven’t actually grown up around smart phones and tablets, these are still fairly new so I think it will be interesting to see how the relationship future generations have with technology changes in comparison to the one we have, and whether the fact that they’ve been inundated with it throughout their entire lives actually in the end drives them away from living their lives through it.


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