Internet use continues to increase, this is especially true regarding social media. Older people in particular have increased the use of internet since 2007. However, television continues to have the large coverage in all groups with one exception, 15 to 24 year olds used the Internet more than they watched television an average day in 2008, according to a national survey of 4,500 persons, conducted by Nordicom at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
"We can also see how newsconsumption is changing. This suggests a new role for journalists, and viewers who are have more knowledge about, and are critical of, the media." says Professor Ulla Carlsson, who directs the survey at Nordicom, the University of Gothenburg.
Ever since 1979, Nordicom at the University of Gothenburg has been conducting Media Barometer, a survey of how Swedes use the media. We can now report the results of the 2008 survey:
More older people active online
During the past four years, the share of Internet users in the Swedish population has almost doubled, from 35 per cent to 68 per cent, on an average day. Interactive use is still the sector with the largest increase, although more people were watching web-TV and listening to radio podcasts in 2008 than in 2007.
The total time devoted to the media, however, remains at the same level as in recent years six hours a day. Young people spend more time on media, about seven hours.
Practically every young person uses the Internet on an average day, while the age group showing the greatest increase in the past year are older people (65 to 79 years). Use in this group rose from 29 per cent in 2007 to 39 per cent in 2008. Swedish pensioners are thereby much more active Internet users than their counterparts in the rest of Europe.
Modest use of blogs
While older people are among the most active users of e-mail, search engines and online newspapers, young people more often choose social media and listen to music files. Participation in the blogosphere is still relatively modest, with 8 per cent of Internet users devoting time to this on an average day. The most active group here are young people, 15 to 24 years old (17 per cent).
48% of children, 9 to 14 years old, play computer -games on an average day. More boys than girls play computer games.
Significant social differences in Internet use
Significant social differences in Internet use remain. The share of Internet users at home on an average day amongst people with high education is more than double that of the group with low education (69 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively). Digital skills and expertise are also more developed in the highly educated group. They take advantage of more features of both media sites and social media.
However, regarding what the Internet is used for from a media perspective (i.e. reading newspapers, watching television, listening to radio, etc.) the patterns are similar regardless of educational level.
There are more men (65 per cent) than women (56 per cent) who use the Internet at home on an average day, with the same pattern repeated regarding time spent (86 minutes for men and 67 minutes for women). Only book reading shows as great a difference between the sexes, albeit reversed, with women (42 per cent) being voracious readers than men (30 per cent) on an average day.
Changes in how news is obtained
A change in the way the news is obtained in our regular mass media can be seen in practically every age group, even though it is somewhat more apparent amongst young people and men. This certainly applies to the viewing of television news programmes. At the beginning of this decade, more than half (55 per cent) of the population watched television news programmes on an average day. This percentage has decreased each year, and was about 40 per cent in 2008, including web-TV.
Naturally, the amount of news obtained from various online news services is of, at least, the same quantity as the decrease in television news viewing. However, the type of news involved may well differ. The online news services of the traditional media feature short texts, with more opinions from commentary services, such as blogs. The number of clicks is becoming a major factor in what will be considered news, at a time when the future of high-quality newspapers is looking all the more dim.
In addition to the audience's more fragmentized ways of obtaining news, the results of the Media Barometer indicate alterations in news journalism which increasingly leaves issues such as the evaluation of sources to the individual user. The question is what the consequences will be on the journalist's role and, in a longer perspective, a democracy's need of well-informed citizens.
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