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Medialisation and digitalisation of human's life field and developments of his life style (1/2)

This paper is based on a representative empiric research, which has been performed on the basis of a grant of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, called "The Informatization of the Czech Society in the Context of Globalization and the European Integration." Besides other research tasks, an empiric survey has been performed using a standardized dialogue with a representative set of 1900 respondents. Time snapshots have been taken with half of the respondents at the same time.

The current youth are significantly characterized by changes of their life field and its individual components.[1]. Primarily, the social and mental fields of today's youth have changed. The social field of the youth has been most radically altered by media, including new information and communication technologies.

The change represents the greatest difference in contrast to the previous youth generations. The media have permeated the life field and the life style of the youth so significantly that the new young generation can be called "the media youth". The youth to a considerable extent live through media and in contact with media. This is partially illustrated by data on the volume of time that the youth spend in front of the computer monitor or the TV screen, and the dynamics of acquiring technical or material equipment to facilitate such activities.

Technical Equipment Owned

The positions of individual media have shown a great dynamics. While it has taken the mankind centuries to acquire the book, and this process has been connected with a gradual acquisition of the ability to read and with the technical development of printing, the PC has penetrated the society within the life cycle of a single generation.

This is documented by the following chart, which uses the surveys made in 1994 and 2000 to monitor elements of material ownership of the classic media - the book and the PC. It compares the ownership of a collection of more than 200 books and the PC. In 1994, in the age group of 15 - 18, 14% more respondents owned a collection of books than PC; however, in 2000 the PC owners had a 4% majority. The greatest growth of PC ownership has been in the age group of 19 - 23. Since 1994 the number of PC owners has increased nearly five times, from 9% to 42%. At present, nearly half of the youth in the age group of 19 - 23 own a PC. The decline of book ownership among people from 15 - 23 years of age in relation to the PC has only been relative, though. The number of owners of a collection of books really drops in the age group of 24 - 30. During the 6-year period, their number has decreased by one third. This development has been caused by the fact that for the youngest age groups, the ownership of a collection of books is more or less connected with the life style and value orientation of the whole family. In other age groups, the purchasing of books expresses a young individual to a greater extent. Undoubtedly, we are witnesses to a change in the mental field of the man, the medium, through which the man will acquire information and satisfy his other needs, will change considerably.

Ownership of PC and book collection in 1994 and 2000
Ownership of PC and book collection in 1994 and 2000

Some age groups are now approaching the saturation levels with mobile phones. Their use culminates in the age group of 19 - 23, where 63% of the group members own a mobile phone and additional 11% only use it. It is rather exceptional among the youth not to have a mobile phone, meaning a negative differentiation. The mobile phone is not just a communication device for transmitting information, it has become a bearer of other functions. It is a status symbol, confirming the membership in the community, and representing a life-style element.

Mobile phone ownership
Mobile phone ownership

Leisure Time and Media

From a week-time snapshot we have learned that the young generation of 15 - 30 years of age on average sleeps 59.06 hours a week (8.4 hours a day), the population older than 30 years sleeps 56.93 hours a week (8 hours a day). All media-related activities occupy 37.18 hours a week for the young generation (15 - 30), but 42.28 hours for people older than 30. If we consider the weekly time volume, excluding the time for sleeping, as 100%, then media-related activities represent 34% and all other activities 66% of the time of the youth. For the population above 30 years the ratio is 37% and 63%.

What share of this time scale do the individual media-related activities account for? If we consider the time volume (37.18 and 41.28 hours) as 100%, then the share of individual activities can be illustrated in charts. The first chart shows the distribution of activities of the young generation, the second chart shows the distribution of activities of the population above 30 years of age.

Time dedicated to media-related activities per weekin the age group of 15 30
Time dedicated to media-related activities per week - in the age group of 15  30
Time dedicated to media-related activities per weekin the age group of 30+
Time dedicated to media-related activities per week - in the age group of 30+

As for the youth, work with PC and the Internet account for 10% and TV for 32%. In the 30+ population group, the people dedicate 2.5 less time to information technologies but more time to TV watching - 45% of time. The PC and Internet are not used by the whole young generation. The real time dedicated to the Internet and PC ranges from 0 to many hours per week. This of course affects the whole structure of free-time spending and the life style. In a time series of surveys performed since 1982, using the same methods, the research delivered the first facts on the declining volume of time spend by the youth watching TV.

[1] Sak, P. Proměny české mládeže (Metamorphoses of the Czech Youth) Praha: Petrklíč 2000. 291 s.
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