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Internet Does Not Make Young People Abandon Traditional Media

March 26, 2012

Almost all 9- to 24-year-old Swedes use the internet. Most of them do so daily, and the older they are, the more they use it. Yet, this does not mean that they have ceased using traditional media, says Professor Olle Findahl, who has conducted a study on young people’s media habits on behalf of NORDICOM at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Admittedly, people in this age group do watch TV and listen to radio and recorded music somewhat less today than 30 years ago. The same trend can be observed for reading, especially when it comes to educational textbooks and nonfiction. However, children and adolescents still use traditional media more than the internet. In fact, schoolchildren (age 9-14) spend a whole 75 percent of their media time on traditional media; for the age group 15-24 the proportion is 60 percent.

Similar to what happened when television came about in the 1950s, it seems like people use the internet to complement and not substitute older media. The internet provides young people with music and films. Then there is the entirely new behavior that is made possible through social networks — contacts with like-minded individuals who share the same interests.

The social network Facebook has a greater reach among young people than newspapers, and almost the same reach as TV. And the reach of the digital music service Spotify comes close to that of radio. However, this does not mean that everything that has to do with the internet automatically becomes popular. For example, relatively few young individuals use tablet computers, e-books and the Twitter microblog service. Yet the use of so-called smartphones has increased by several hundred percent in only two years.

It should be noted that there is no direct negative correlation between internet use and the use of traditional media. Instead, the most intense internet users are also heavy consumers of traditional media.

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