David Couchman
David Couchman is the Director of Focus and the producer of the 'God: new evidence,' 'God and the Big Bang,' 'After Life?' and 'Jesus Myths' video series. More...

Digital Evangelism blog

'Connected' survey of how teenagers use the media

How do young people use media?
How do they communicate?
Where do they get ideas?

Survey by Chapel for Jerusalem Trust

Exaltabo! focuses on the issue of communication to young people; How do young people communicate? How do they access information? What are the 'languages' which they employ? What are their influences?

One aspect of answering this question is finding out what they say themselves about their sources and influences. We may believe that young people are besotted with the web. We may believe that they don't want to listen to their parents. We may maintain that they don't read any more. But we ought, at least, to take some soundings about what they actually do.

The 'Connected' survey doesn't pretend to answer all these questions. In the nature of a quantitative survey (and material referred to by Jayne Ozanne in her conference paper 'Do we mind the gap' provides a valuable qualitative counterpoint), interpretation has to read between the lines. The survey took as its brief focusing on technologies, media, influences and trends, rather than tackling deeper questions of language and meaning. The responses are inevitably shaped by the questions, which is why we have provided the raw data here.

Given the above provisos, we believe the information gained from a reasonably broad spectrum of respondents raises some telling points.

  • Are we all getting sucked into the 'web'? No - not right away. Young people don't appear to be absorbed with the Internet. Media such as Internet chat seem to have a mixed reception. The usage of the web doesn't appear to be as significant as music and phone usage, for example.
  • The soundtrack of our lives? - Music is a significant component of most respondents' days. At the same time they don't rate it as 'influencing' them highly. This suggests that music articulates their attitudes, rather than forming them. One's music choices and anthems, as well as one's clothing and social group are part of defining one's identity.
  • Meaning or ambience? What do the statistics about usage of console games, television and music add up to? They may suggest an experiential environment in which audiovisual content is absorbed impressionistically and non-linearly. This is a suggestion rather than a conclusion!
  • Ignoring the older generation? - Possibly not. Parents scored as highly as friends in influencing young people's attitudes and opinions.

Perhaps the most interesting responses are to the questions at the end of the survey - 'Tick which of these you use more, and which you use less than a year ago', and 'What do you think has most effect on shaping your attitudes and ideas?' Bear in mind that the 'trends' question is being asked of people who themselves have grown a significant year older in the last year - so may reflect an age related trend.

Video

The producers combined headline statistics with video material suggesting the 'mood' of the communications environment of young people, and this was presented at the Exaltabo! Conference.

Research Notes

The survey was carried out in January 2001 with the co-operation of six schools. It was available as a web-based survey, and teachers agreed to arrange for students to complete it during school time. Due to problems with school 'firewalls' some schools were in fact unable to complete the survey in this way, and were provided with good old-fashioned printed surveys to complete.

The survey, research and video were produced by Chapel. 01625 501332

Terry Gibson
Managing Director
Chapel
February 2001

 

Sample

98

Boys

173

Girls

 

Female

20

YR 8

12-13 yr olds

21

YR 9

13-14

58

YR 10

14-15

56

YR 11

15-16

7

YR 12

16-17

11

YR 13

17-18

 

Male

21

YR 8

18

YR 9

28

YR 10

31

YR 11

 

Six schools

NAME TOWN RESPONDENTS
   

M

F

ST MARYLEBONE SCHOOL

MARYLEBONE, LONDON

 

60

WILLINGDON COMMUNITY

EASTBOURNE

32

33

BIRLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE

SHEFFIELD

19

16

CHEADLE HULME COLLEGE

CHEADLE HULME

10

15

HENBURY HIGH

MACCLESFIELD

17

5

ST MARY RADCLIFFE AND TEMPLE

BRISTOL

20

4

 

Statistics

271 questionnaires filled in

1.

MALE

36%

 

FEMALE

64%

 

Communication

1) How much do you use the telephone to chat to friends?

Not at all

8%

0-1 hr/day

62%

1-2 hrs/day

21%

More than 2 hrs/day

9%

 

2) Do you use Internet chat sites much?

No

65%

0-1hr/day

22%

1-2 hrs/day

7%

More than 2 hrs/day

6%

 

3) Do you own a mobile phone?

Yes

75%

No

25%

 

4) How often do you use a mobile phone for talking to people?

Don't own one

23%

0-1 hr/day

58%

1-2 hrs/day

12%

More than 2 hrs/day

7%

 

5) How much do you use text messaging?

Never

25%

0-2 messages per day

21%

3-5 messages per day

23%

More than 5 messages per day

31%

 

6) How much time do you spend logged on to the Internet?

None

18%

0-1 hr/day

53%

1-2 hrs/day

16%

More than 2 hrs/day

13%

 

7) How many emails a day do you send?

None

38%

1-5

56%

More than 5

6%

Information

8) How often do you use your school/town library to get information?

Never

57%

Once a week

37%

More than once a week

6%

 

9) How often do you use the Internet for research purposes?

Never

15%

Once a week

61%

More than once a week

24%

 

10) Do you watch any news programs on a regular basis?

Yes

51%

No

48%

 

11) Do you read any newspapers on a regular basis.? If yes, which?

No

52%

Yes

48%

Name of Newspaper

most popular newspaper:
THE SUN

 

12) Do you read any magazines on a regular basis? If yes, which?

No

39%

Yes

61%

Name of Magazine

 

 

13) Do documentary programs such as 'Horizon', 'The History of Britain' and 'Dinosaurs' interest you?

Yes

16%

Only a little

44%

No

40%

 

14) Do you enjoy many of your school subjects?

Lots of them

21%

A few

72%

None

7%

 

15) For getting information, do you regard the Internet as:

Highly useful, with endless possibilities

64%

Something that's there, but I never really use it

33%

Totally useless, I can't see what all the hype is about

3%

 

16) Do you believe that we will soon be able to do everything through our TVs?

Definitely

21%

In a while, yes

64%

Never

15%

 

Entertainment

17) What do you like to do on weekend nights?

Stay at home

14%

Go out (cinema, club etc)

53%

Go to a friend's

33%

 

18) How often do you go out to clubs etc?

Never

43%

1-2 times per week

53%

More than 2 times per week

4%

 

19) Do you listen to CDs?

0-1 hr/day

26%

1-2 hrs/day

26%

More than 2 hrs/day

48%

 

20) Do you own a games console?

No

23%

Yes

77%

 

21) How often do you play computer games?

Never

28%

0-1 hr/day

42%

1-2 hrs/day

15%

More than 2 hrs/day

15%

 

22) Do you use the web for entertainment?

Never

40%

0-1 hr/day

37%

1-2 hrs/day

16%

More than 2 hrs/day

7%

 

23) Do you watch films at the cinema?

No

22%

1 per week

75%

More than one per week

3%

 

24) How much do you watch TV?

0-1 hr/day

14%

1-2 hrs/day

37%

More than 2 hrs/day

48%

 

25) What is your favorite television program? (Please state)

Name - favorite programs are Eastenders, Friends, Simpsons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

 

26) Which of these would you prefer to watch?

'SMTV live'/other morning show

37%

'Frazier'/other, more 'adult' comedy

48%

'Wise up'/other 'teens' program

15%

 

27) Do you read books for relaxation and entertainment?

No

47%

0-1 hr/day

39%

1-2 hrs/day

11%

More than 2 hrs/day

3%

 

28) Do you see friends outside school?

No

7%

0-1 hr/day

30%

1-2 hrs/day

27%

More than 2 hrs/day

36%

 

Tick which of these you use more, and which you use less now than a year ago:

 

More

The same

Less

29 Mobile phone

67%

21%

12%

30 Television

25%

50%

24%

31 Email

55%

26%

19%

32 Web

65%

20%

15%

33 Internet chat

27%

36%

37%

34 Radio

47%

40%

13%

35 Cinema

29%

47%

24%

36 Music

75%

24%

1%

37 Newspapers

20%

54%

26%

38 Magazines

35%

42%

23%

39 Books

24%

36%

40%

 

What do you think has most effect in shaping your attitudes and ideas?

 

No effect

A little

Quite a lot

Most effect

40 Friends

2%

22%

50%

26%

41 Parents

8%

26%

40%

26%

42 Teachers

23%

51%

18%

8%

43 TV

18%

48%

26%

8%

44 The web

55%

27%

13%

5%

45 Music

25%

38%

26%

11%

46 Other

(please state)

     

 

47) What is your favorite web site? ________________________________________