Ofcom Media Use and Attitudes Seminar
Ofcom reported on the results from two media use surveys on 2 June 2011. (You will, naturally, want to reflect on the fact that this is an auspicious day: the 59th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.) There were two reports from Ofcom.
Alison Preston (Senior Research Associate) reported on the UK Adults Media Literacy survey which was fielded in Spring and Autumn 2010. The two waves were combined for a sample size of 2,117 adults age 16+. There were three main points to take away from her report.
First, Internet use (called “take-up” in Ofcom jargon) is increasing and has reached 74% of all individuals. This is consistent with the OxIS 2011 survey, which shows 73%. It remains skewed by age and social grade, with younger people and people in higher social grades using the Internet more. This is true of both simple use and amount (hours) of use.Second, although online use is expanding, critical knowledge and awareness remain largely static. For example, about one-quarter of respondents agree that search engine results are accurate and unbiased. This has implications for media literacy.
Finally, new users differ from more established users across a range of attitudes and behaviour. Specifically they go to fewer web sites, they use the Internet less, and they use fewer Internet applications.
Jane Rumble (Head of Research, Media) reported on the UK Children’s Media Literacy survey, which was also fielded in Spring and Autumn 2010. The surveys were combined for a total sample size of 2,071. Children age 5-15 were interviewed with their parents in the room. Given current ethical understandings, this was unavoidable but it probably introduces social desirability bias, which is likely to be stronger among older children. Her report had four main points.
First although TV remains extremely popular, children’s Internet use has increased. Among 12-15 year olds Internet and mobile phone has grown to the point where the Internet and mobile phones rival TV as the preferred medium. Children’s breadth of use of the Internet has not changed greatly since 2009.
Second, social networking sites are increasing rapidly in popularity. For “social networking sites” read “FaceBook” since use of other sites like Bebo and MySpace has declined since 2009. This, of course, parallels similar trends among adults. Privacy settings are actively used: Over 80% of users say their profiles can only be seen by friends. Of course, given FaceBook’s deliberately over-complicated and frequently-changed privacy settings, this may not in fact be true. In any event it does not speak to how much personal information FaceBook collects, stores and sells; and how much people know about that. Regardless of levels of knowledge, there are low levels of concern about privacy dangers of social networking sites.
Third, almost 80% of parents say they have rules about their children’s Internet use. This has not changed since 2009. Use of Internet controls or content filtering software has declined since 2009 to 37% of parents. Among children who access the Internet over their mobile phone, only about 20% of parents say they have limited their children’s access to undesirable content.
Finally, FaceBook use is popular among under-13-year-olds, despite the fact that age-verification is supposedly required. 27% of children age 8-12 have an active social networking profile.
More detailed results are in the reports themselves which are available on the Ofcom website at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/medialiteracyresearch.