Cross-media experiences of Croatian youth – The Meaning of Media, Mobility and Interactivity in the Every Day Life of Youth
In Croatian science and in the public arena, the discourse on youth and media is shaped mostly by fear of negative media influences, or focuses on theorising the socialisation potential of media in the formative years (Ilišin, 2003) and on the issue of media literacy. Several empirical quantitative studies have examined the way in which children in Croatia use media, but only one study used a sample which enabled generalisation. Within the framework of this study, usage of particular media was analysed in terms of demographics and socioeconomic background. Since the 1990s, more and more Croatian households, besides the traditional media, have been using new information and communication technologies (ICT), like cell phones and the internet. We can assume that new technologies have an important place in the lives of young people, but we still do not have enough data to assess and understand the effects of those technologies on those lives. This project aims to investigate cross-media experience and the meaning of media, mobility and interactivity in the context of the everyday lives of Croatian students and secondary school pupils. The focus of the project is not on certain specific media, but on cross-media engagement and on the way young people use old and new media in a multi-media environment, in the context of increasing mobility, interactivity and media convergence. Comprehension and deeper understanding of the way young people use media, what they use, when, why and how, such as what are the meanings of certain types of media engagement, of mobility and interactivity (participation) from their own perspective, are the main contribution of this project. Young people represent a segment of the population where we can detect changes emerging in a certain social context (Ilišin, Radin 2002), while changing communication patterns within society are among the key variables in understanding social change (Meyerowitz 1984). A grounded approach will be adopted in order to develop a theoretical model for comprehension of the nature and meaning of media in young people’s lives, applying combined qualitative techniques of investigation to “youth voices” (Svensson 2011) and what they have to say about their cross-media experiences (written life histories of growing up in a multimedia environment, non-participant observation, in-depth interviews about patterns of media engagement at home, outside the home, in private, public and semi-public places, and a set of mediaengagement diaries with follow-up interviews), together with quantitative data on the way young people in Croatia use media.