Are we really that different?

Credit: Self made with PitkoChart


‘Inequality’ springs racism, sexism and classism to mind. However, it’s time we accepted that digital inequality deserves a place alongside more traditional forms of inequality (Robinson et al., 2015). As whilst an ability to access the internet can provide advantages in various aspects of life, from academic performance to entrepreneurship (Robinson et al, 2015) its use is not always a free choice (Halford and Savage, 2010).

Often, factors determining internet usage are out of our control. For instance, a mere 41% of people over 65 use the internet (Pew, 2011). Additionally, young women are more likely to receive abuse online (Lutz and Hoffmann, 2016). Furthermore, location heavily impacts physical ability to access the web (Pew, 2011). One is unable to choose the era or location of their birth, or their gender – so why should they limit their digital potential?

These are but a few of the factors – so to see if I had been negatively impacted, I analysed myself:

Credit: Self Made with PiktoChart

I’m lucky – the factors of digital inequality have not negatively impacted my life – rather the macro (location, economic status, age) and individual (motivation, familial and societal role) factors have allowed me to prosper. I’ve never experienced online “trolling”, nor have I been hacked – which often can perturb internet users (Halford, Davies & Dixon, 2017).

However, I remain concerned by the impact which they are having on others.

Preventing these factors impeding usage is crucial if we are to complete a transition into a digital society. Otherwise, the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” will only widen. It’s important we ensure our society, as a whole, are able to walk before we allow the luckiest few to run – else it’s an unfair race.

Credit: Self made with Piktochart

Preparatory steps have already been taken, with talk of internet access becoming a human right (La Rue, 2011), but we must ensure more is done to prevent a new form of inequality becoming prevalent in our society – even if we aren’t personally affected.




Word Count (Excluding in-line citations): 297


Robinson, L., & Cotten, S., Ono, H., Quan-Haase, A., Mesch, G., Chen, W., Schulz, J., Hale, T. and Stern, M. (2015). Digital inequalities and why they matter. Information, Communication & Society, 18(5), pp.569-582.

Lutz, C., & Hoffmann, C. P. (2017). The dark side of online participation: exploring non-, passive and negative participation. Information, Communication & Society, 1-22.

Zickuhr, K., & Smith A. (2012). Digital Differences, Pew Internet

Halford, S. & Davies, H. & Dixon, J. (2012). Digital differences – inequalities and online practices, University of Southampton/ FutureLearn MOOC

La Rue, F. (2011). Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, United Nations General Assembly A/HRC/17/27

Reflection: Do I live here now?


Prior to the introductory topic, I’d have considered myself to be “digital” in every way, shape and form. Subconsciously, I was aligned with Prenksy’s rather ageist theory.

However, my subsequent exposure to White’s theory  converted my mind, and I started a reflection of digital life more broadly.

Through the mapping process, I accepted that I was “digitally deficient” in some areas. Attempting to remedy these deficiencies, I created some images for my blog post. After posting them Xavier described me as “fairly comfortable” with creating graphics – which brought a real sense of achievement. Additionally, I had an enjoyable conversation with Tom, where we discussed whether residency was really the key to “empowerment” or if it was possible for negative effects to ensue from complete residency. Whilst we agreed to disagree, there was great value in seeing both sides of the coin. Further, in reading Jeremy’s post not only was I exposed to interesting views, but to a different style of blogging. I highlighted my admiration for the humorous and conversational style in my comment and will consider it in the future.

When recently asked where I’d like to improve I highlighted “participating in professional digital communities”. My experience in the introductory topic has left me feeling I’m in good stead to achieve this progression. With great insight, comments and interaction with my peers we’re creating a community of our own. This community will not only benefit us for this module, or our time at University, but for the rest of our lives – as it allows discussion on specific topics which, despite impacting our lives, we tend not to analyse. For example, in this topic, the ability to critically analyse myself and consider my prejudices surrounding others in their digital usage will prove hugely transferable to different areas.


My comment on Jeremy’s blog here

My comment on Tom’s blog here


Word count: 300

Am I a digital visitor or a digital resident?

In 2001, Prensky proposed that people born into the digital era would be “digital natives”, whilst those born after were “digital immigrants” who were likely to ‘manage to learn to exist but will never be fully competent'(Prensky 2001).

Despite initial credence, Prensky’s ageist theory rightly came under strain from critics. It was argued that whilst a proportion of young people are highly adept with technology, “there is also a significant proportion who do not have the skills predicted by the “digital native” theory” (Bennet et al, 2008). This results in a danger of neglect if educators assume all young students are “digital natives” (Margaryan and Littlejohn, 2008).

Most pertinently was the criticism from White and Le Cornu, who opined that “digital visitor” and “digital resident” provided more useful metaphors (White and Le Cornu, 2011), as they avoid avoid the assumption that age is the key determinant of how individuals utilise the digital landscape.

Under this theory, visitors are likely to log on solely to do a task and then log off – they are focused and specific, but also sceptical, on the web (White, 2008). In contrast, residents are happy being online simply to spend time with others, and even when they log off  “an aspect of their persona remains.” (White 2011). For White, these modes operated as a spectrum, not opposites.

White explains in detail below:

Using White’s theory, I applied my own digital identity to the spectrum:


These images allow me to assess where my digital shortcomings are. Whilst a digital resident in some personal aspects, I’m a visitor professionally – accessing for a purpose and logging off.  In order to fulfil my potential, I need to improve this aspect and integrate professional services into my everyday life. My position illustrates the benefit of White’s spectrum over Prenksy’s opposites, as I lie not at either pole, rather in the middle – in spite of my apparent “native” status.


Word Count (Excluding in-line citations): 300


Prenksy, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital ImmigrantsOn the Horizon. MCB University Press,  9(5).

Bennett, S., Maton, K. and Kervin, L. (2008), The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39: 775–786.

Margaryan, A., Littlejohn, A. (2008) Are digital natives a myth or reality?: Students’ use of technologies for learning. Caledonian Academy, Glasgow Caledonian University,

White, D., Le Cornu, A. (2011), Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagementFirst Monday, Volume 16, Number 9

White, D., Visitors and Residents,

White, D. (2008), Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’. University of Oxford TALL Blog.