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COMET - Tampere Research Centre for Journalism, Media and Communication

The changing media environment of children and youth – follow-up study, phase 2

The media environment of children and youth has changed quickly during the 1990s and 2000s. The Internet, video games and mobile phones are so strongly present in children’s social reality that instead of childhood, people have started to refer to ‘media childhood’. Children are often unprejudiced media users who quickly adopt different kinds of media modes and forms of self-expression. Their media culture is characterized by active creation, modification and evaluation of social media contents. For the parents and educators the change in the media environment often seems uncontrollable and involves different kinds of threat scenarios. Although children's media culture has been studied extensively, its change has not received much attention.

This is the second phase of a follow-up study initiated in 2007 dealing with the changing media environment of children and youth. The aim is to map the change by monitoring the same child groups for a given period of time, and examine how children's media environment concretely changes during that period.

The study comprises about 60 children from four different age groups (5, 8, 11 and 14 year-olds)  living in Tampere and Vesilahti area. The study emphasizes the children’s active agency: They get to tell about their media environment in their own words. The study utilizes research data collected in the previous round. New data is also collected by means of interviews, media diaries and observation. First, attention is given to what has happened in the lives of individual children in the last three years; how e.g. an illiterate day-care aged child of the previous round now navigates the Net as a literate grade-schooler? Second, attention is given to what kinds of conventions do the 14 year olds use in surfing the Net in 2010 compared to the 14 year olds of the previous round in 2007?

In examining the change in media environment, attention is paid to:

  1. Changes in the instrumental media environment of the children
    • What media devices do the children and the youth own? How much and in what ways do they use different media formats?
  2. Changes in the social media environment of the children
    • How the media become integrated to the social reality of the children and the youth? How do the media define games and discussion topics? What are the conventions of the so-called social media like?
  3. Changes in the cultural and commercial media environment of the children
    • What kinds of contents does the “media diet” of the children consist of? How is the commerciality of the media culture present in the children's media environment?
  4. Changes in the media competence of the children
    • What are the children’s media skills and media criticalness like? How do the parents see the media use of the children and the youth?

In addition to the monitoring and the comparison to the previous research round, the study produces an independent, 2010 representation of the changing media environment of children.

The research project will start in January 2010 and will be completed in the winter of 2011. The research project is conducted by the Journalism Research and Development Centre (JRDC) at the University of Tampere.

Contact persons:

Reijo Kupiainen

Tel. +358 3 3551 8897

Heikki Luostarinen

Tel. +358 50 371 4718


Niina Uusitalo

Tel. +358 3 3551 4170

Susanna Vehmas

Tel. +358 3 3551 8056


Helsingin Sanomat Foundation



Post address: Tampere Research Centre for Journalism, Media and Communication, FI-33014 University of Tampere, Finland
Visiting address: Kalevantie 4, E-Wing,(3 rd floor)
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Last update: 10.10.2011 15.32 Muokkaa

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