Anxiety and suspiciousness are feelings we mainly experience when we explore new environments. The digital environment resembles a new place, and users who are not familiar with this digital place or space can experience such feelings. Anxiety/fear can have a protective role in such unknown physical or digital environments; however, when fear is excessive, it is maladaptive.

According to previous theories that were formulated before the social platforms era, different individuals have different digital ages. Further, in terms of digital literacy, individuals can be divided into natives and immigrants (Prensky, 2001) . These theories consider the digital environment as a new language. In brief, native users grew up using the digital space, whereas immigrants were exposed to the online environment first in adulthood. We could argue that immigrants may be more suspicious/fearful compared to native users as they don’t understand/speak the digital language as well as the natives.

More recent theories are in favor of a different division, that is visitors versus residents (White & Le Cornu, 2011). In fact, it is considered to exist a continuum between these two extremes, and each one of us is somewhere in between. In addition, as we have numerous digital literacies, we may be closer to the visitor-extreme concerning one such literacy, but closer to the resident-extreme for another literacy. Visitors do not interact and do not leave digital traces. When an individual has used the web only in a visitor level, it may result in fear or suspiciousness when the individual starts acting as resident despite a long visitor-related experience. Generally, the complexity of the digital space can justify some suspiciousness and fear dependent on individual characteristics.

In conclusion, both the use of the digital space without any protection/fear and its use solely in a visitor level are extremes that should be avoided if we want to securely take advantage of the possibilities that the digital world can give us. 

Digital anxiety and suspiciousness in the light of established theories