Steph Gray has written up the unconference on UK Youth Online held on Saturday, including his own contribution:
I presented some analysis we commissioned from Forrester on how young people are using the internet, social media and social networking services – it led to an interesting discussion about issues of gender, and how we design for the social aspect of using the internet with friends (as opposed to a solitary experience) and recognise the challenge of media fragmentation and continuous partial attention.
Steph has put his slides online, and they make very interesting reading. To some extent they confirm what you might have guessed – younger people are more likely to use social media, and their use of the internet is itself more likely to be social – but confirmation is better than speculation, and some of the detail is well worth reflecting on.
What this material doesn’t show – and can’t show, given the nature of the sample from which the data was drawn – is much about the variation either within this group or between users and non-users (and there are a couple of points where the wording of the slides tempts you to forget that this is a sample of users). And because this is an analysis of a much bigger survey, the numbers involved for the teenage groups are pretty small. The precision of the numbers isn’t really the issue, though: this is important insight into the next generation of people needing to influence and interact with government.
You’re right to be cautious – as I presented these slides, I did preface my comments with the caveat that this was a purely quantitative analysis of some fairly small samples, and that we needed to cross-check the inferences being drawn with common sense and qualitative research such as that presented by Tim Davies on Friday to NYA (link not working unfortunately).
For example: the high rate of blogging amongst young people may simply be a function of blogging being a built in feature of MySpace and Bebo.
And on re-reading, the language is indeed a bit loose: to be clear, this is a sample of internet users under 65, representative only by the usual market research quotas. So it tells us nothing about the digital divide between those who have the internet and those who don’t, for example.
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