Economic Bulletin , News of 7 December 2016

IT and communication technologies dominate adolescent downtime

HaBe (Copyright)  Internet Farbbild Farbfoto
Copyright: HaBe

Today’s teenagers spend their free time very differently than they did 15 years ago: engagement with IT and communications technologies is now their most significant leisure activity. Representative statistics based on data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) longitudinal study indicate that Internet and computer-based recreation plays a major role for more than 95 percent of all 17-yearolds in Germany, regardless of gender. Even though access to the Internet and computer-based technologies is now widespread across all social classes, usage patterns differ according to certain socio-demographic characteristics. While lower household income is associated with higher Internet activity, it is not a factor in social networking or gaming. The latter remains a male domain, but boys’ and girls’ Internet usage and social network engagement do not differ: here the type of high school plays a determining role. Students in academically oriented German high schools (Gymnasien) are more likely to be active on social media on a daily basis than are students in secondary schools (Realschulen and Hauptschulen), which are less academically oriented. Education policymakers have started acknowledging the pivotal role that technology plays in young people’s lives and have announced a campaign targeted to adolescents of all social segments and at all types of high schools. It aims to strengthen students’ command of technology while discussing the risks of digital communication, and investigate how education can leverage more of the new opportunities in digital media.

DIW Economic Bulletin 48/2016 | PDF, 176.23 KB