Apestaartjaren 6

92% of the Flemish youth (12-18 years old) has its own smartphone. For them, it is their most important digital device. Young people use their smartphone very multifunctional: 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 3300 young people, together with the research group MICT (Ghent University). They present all data in Louvain on the 12th and 13th of May.

Snapchat and Instagram are chasing Facebook

In 2016 is Facebook (87%) still the most used social network among young people (12-18 years old). But Snapchat (70%) and Instagram (60%) continue to advance. With children (9-12 years old), YouTube (43%) the most popular network, followed by Ketnet (42%). Girls are noticeably more active on social media than boys.

Mobile internet finally breaks through

Where in 2014 only 37% of young people had a data subscription (3G/4G), this has now risen to 63%. The more young people have mobile internet on their smartphone, the more interesting mobile messaging services become. Facebook Messenger (87%) remains the front runner, but the gap with Snapchat (66%) diminishes.

Social media handing out some blows to classic media

Also to follow the news every day, Flemish young people turn to their social media (71%) in the first place. The classic media suffers from this compared to 2014. Television, with 55%, fairly hangs on. But radio (39%) and newspapers (11%) lose much ground.

Sexting is not cool

Only 1,7% of the Flemish youth sends nude pictures using their smartphones. Boys and girls think almost equally about sexting. Only a small minority (2,6%) sees people who send sexts cool. The most used channel to send sexual images is Snapchat (81,1%). There, photos disappear after a few seconds. In theory, because 47% of the young people admits to take a screenshot on Snapchat at least once a week.

Phubbing is not done

Are young people really so addicted to their smartphone as a lot of adults claim? Only 13% says to use their smartphone often during a conversation (=phubbing). 74% of the young people do not even appreciate it themselves if friends are constantly occupied with their smartphone during a conversation.

Talking instead of forbidding

How does the broad youth sector have to deal with that 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.

An open dialogue on their media use and actively stimulating them to use that media creatively, both in school and in their free time. According to Mediaraven and LINC is this the right approach.

Everyone professionally occupied with young people benefit with 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.

Download the full research report


This should be replaced by the table of contents