Time for some monkey business - Apestaartjaren 6 research (online behaviour of the Flemish youth age 12 - 18)

  • News
  • 16/08/2016
  • Belgian Safer Internet Centre

Today, 92 per cent of Flemish youth (12-18 years old) have their own smartphone. For them, it is their most important digital device. Young people use their smartphone in a very multifunctional way: to follow current events and to discuss homework, but also to game, stream music, and to chat. With this, smartphones slowly suppress game consoles and MP3 players.

Mediaraven and LINC concluded this with the biannual Apestaartjaren research. They took questionnaires from 330 children and 3,300 young people, together with the research group MICT (Ghent University). All data was presented at an event in Louvain on 12-13 May 2016. Some of the key findings are presented here.
Snapchat and Instagram are chasing Facebook
In 2016, Facebook is still the most used social network among young people (87 per cent among those 12-18 years old). But Snapchat (70 per cent) and Instagram (60 per cent) continue to advance. With children (9-12 years old), YouTube (43 per cent) is the most popular network, followed by Ketnet (42 per cent). Girls are noticeably more active on social media than boys.
Mobile internet finally breaks through
Where as in 2014, only 37 per cent of young people had a data subscription (3G/4G), this has now risen to 63 per cent. The more young people have mobile internet on their smartphone, the more interesting mobile messaging services become. Facebook Messenger remains the front runner (87 per cent), but the gap is diminishing with with Snapchat being used by 66 per cent.
Social media is handing out some blows to classic media
To follow the news every day, 71 per cent of Flemish young people turn to social media in the first instance. The classic media is suffering a downturn due to this compared to findings in 2014: television is hanging in there (55 per cent), but radio (39 per cent) and newspapers (11 per cent) have lost much ground.
Sexting is not cool
Only 1.7 per cent of Flemish youth sends nude pictures using their smartphones. Boys and girls have similar views on sexting and only a small minority (2.6 per cent) regard people who send sexts to be cool. The most used channel to send sexual images is Snapchat (81.1 per cent). There, photos disappear after a few seconds, in theory at least: 47 per cent of the young people surveyed admitted taking screenshot on Snapchat at least once a week.
Phubbing is not done
Are young people really as addicted to their smartphone as a lot of adults claim? Only 13 per cent claim to use their smartphone often during a conversation (typically referred to as ‘phubbing'). 74 per cent of the young people surveyed do not even appreciate it themselves if friends are constantly occupied with their smartphone during a conversation.
Talking instead of forbidding
How should the broad youth sector deal with smartphone? Mediaraven and LINC call for everyone working with young people to have confidence in young people in the first place. New media are an essential part of their social environment; to keep this quiet or forbid it has little use. According to Mediaraven and LINC, an open dialogue on their media use and actively stimulating them to use that media creatively, both in school and in their free time is the right approach. Everyone professionally occupied with young people can benefit from a smartphone as a working tool. That smartphone serves as an access gate to the world of young people and, as a result, offers new possibilities to communicate with them as a youth worker.
Find out more about the work of the Belgian Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.

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