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The Social Media Natives: The Relationship between Young Peoples’ Media User Type and their Media Use at School


The purpose of this study is to understand the relationship between the various user patterns among young people and their use of computers and the Internet in school. First, by using cluster analysis on survey data (N=1,850 /age: 9-16 years), we identified four distinct user types: Sporadic Users (38%), Video Users (11%), Socialisers (41%), and Advanced Users (10%). This finding indicates that social media natives, understood as young people, grown up with social media, are not a homogeneous group of media users. Second, a concerning finding is that so many of the user types lean toward a passive user style focused on entertainment. In comparison to previous studies, there is a marked turn toward deriving more entertainment value from computer and Internet use – where technology is used as a toy more than a tool. A typical pattern towards instrumental or utility use is not identified in this study. Third, this study finds a relationship between how young people use new media in general and how often they use computers and the Internet at school. This latter finding suggests that schools may exert a strong influence on how young people in the 21st century develop their user style and competence level in new technologies. At present, schools might amplify rather than equalise the digital divide between young people. Finally, the user typology identified might help researchers, practitioners, and decision makers to better understand the complex variations among social media natives.


Academic chapter/article/Conference paper




  • SINTEF Digital / Software and Service Innovation






Digital Expectations and Experiences in Education




149 - 162

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