Analyse and synthesis of the existing data

International researches

2.2.1 The Internet and young people

BEVORT E., BREDA I., DE SMEDT T., ROMAIN L., «Les jeunes et Internet : Représentations, usages et appropriations – Synthèse internationale», CLEMI, Octobre 2003.

This research, already mentioned in some national description, was undertaken in 2000, jointly in seven countries - Belgium, Spain, France, Portugal, Quebec and Switzerland. It was intended to supply a deeper and more precise examination of uses, representation and appropriation of the Internet by young people. It provided quantitative and qualitative information that was used to identify new directions for education.

Research Conditions

The research survey 'The Internet and young people' was carried out during the year 1999-2000. The work was carried out by organisations experienced in media literacy as well as in research.

  • Belgium : Research group in the mediation of knowledge (GreMS), Department of Communication, University of Louvain-la-Neuve ;
  • Spain : Universidad de Granada and Universidad de Huelva ;
  • France : CLEMI, Centre for liaison between teaching and information media - Ministry for Youth, National Education and Research ;
  • Italy : Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano ;
  • Portugal : Universidade de Coimbra ;
  • Quebec : Sherbrooke University and Montreal University ;
  • Switzerland : Media Literacy and Information and Communication Centre (Cemtic). (closed in 2001)


The Internet has become an important tool for information, communication and entertainment, but it raises many questions that often elicit two opposite visions: one euphoric (the Internet will solve everything), the other catastrophic (the Internet will destroy everything).

This work aims to find out more about the attitude to and relationship with the Internet of 12 to 18 years old teenagers.

Three dimensions were taken into account :

  • The Representation: evaluation of the picture of Internet made by young people ;
  • The Use : to determinate the real conditions of use at a given period by the young people ;
  • The Appropriation : to specify the degree and the type of integration of Internet within the practices of the young people.

To determine these three dimensions, interactions between young people and the Internet were studied mainly at school and at home. The goal is to suggest to parents and teachers steps for discovery and training which are adapted to these media and to benefit from the competences acquired in order to have relevant and quality education in Internet media.

Experimentation Conditions

The research was carried out in teaching institutions with a total sample of 3326 young people. The research procedure was common to the various countries: the research was carried out in two different cities, two schools per city, and for each school, to the five levels of secondary education.

Point of view and methodology

The research starts from a socio-pedagogical point of view. It tries to understand the relation between young people and the Internet. It is also meta-theoretical: the research aimed to examine the tools and the methods for monitoring the problem with the goal of providing a reliable analytical model, and especially one which could be used in the future.

The research data were collected using two methods: by sending a questionnaire to the whole sample, followed by individual interviews with a sub-sample.

National reports

Each country carried out its own survey and produced a national report. Each of these reports was made public.


1. Permanence and diversities of the Net surfer portrait

There is no standard picture of the young Net surfer, but dominant themes and significant variations can be discerned. The different conditions and places of access produce very distinct approaches to the Internet. Sex, age, and level of expertise and familiarity with the Internet are all variables that influence modes of use, aims and the means of attaining them.

Behind a progressive vulgarising, there is a dualisation. With the experiment, the profiles of the users are diversifying, even if constants were still sensitive. The risk of dualisation is especially requested by inequalities of socio-economic levels.

2. Tracks for research

The approach of the privileged sample was based on two oppositions: one concerning the social context of the young people, the other concerning the integration of Internet at school; a more systematic approach should be applied.

Many new interrogations emerged from this investigation. They touch mainly the way in which the young people "learn Internet" or the more specific questions (as the design that the young people are done of a documentary activity, the place of pleasure, the concept of risk, the identification of the interlocutors through Internet, the specific trainings...)

3. Tracks for the action

  • The school should guarantee the equity between pupils concerning Internet.

School must be of social corrector and allow each pupil to not only initiate themselves to Internet and to reach it when he wishes it, but also to develop its critical thought and reflection about these media.

  • To base a Media Literacy on the experiment of the young people and on their spontaneous trends to be interested.

The possibility and interest to put a Media Literacy on the experiment and questions which the young people build spontaneously is important because they discover Internet by their experiments.

  • To build a pedagogy of change accompaniment.

It is a whole dynamics of social evolution. In this field, the school, the family and the third education have an important role to play.

  • To join the parents in their requests of knowledge and reflection.

The parents say themselves to be the last informed about Internet.


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