Podcast Episode on Perceived Digital Overuse

The Center for Information Technology, Society, and Law (ITSL) and the
Digital Society Initiative (DSI) at the University of Zurich started the “Breakfast of Ideas” podcast and event series that focuses on the challenges and opportunities connected to the digitization of society. Young scholars from different disciplines present their work in a short talk and Q&A. The podcast is hosted by Aurelia Tamò-Larrieux and Damian George with funding from the Graduate Campus.

In the first episode, I present our research on the perception of digital overuse and well-being and then discuss some questions with Aurelia.

[Listen to the podcast here]

One of the indicators used to assess perceived digital overuse in a representative survey of Swiss Internet users – >25% agree or strongly agree that they spend more time online than they would like. See http://mediachange.ch/research/wip-ch-2017 for more findings.

[Slides from the talk at the Breakfast of Ideas]



2018 Articles on Digital Inequality

The Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society published a special issue on “The Digital Divide at the Nexus of Social Justice, Media Justice, and Ethics” including a contribution by Marina Micheli, Christoph Lutz and myself. We develop the concept of the digital footprint as the aggregate of data derived from the digitally traceable behavior and online presence associated with an individual, and connect it with the debates on inequality, big data, algorithms, and privacy.

In an article published in the International Journal of Communication (open access), we focused on subjective social well-being as one specific quality of life indicator and outcome of Internet use, finding that the perception of digital belongingness directly increases social well-being, and Internet skills do so indirectly. Both pieces deal with the more general question of how digital technology relates to well-being.

We are currently following up on this line of research and added the perception of digital overuse to our framework of digital well-being (see figure below for a first result).

ggplot(ddui,aes(x=pdo.f,y=swb.f)) + geom_point() + geom_smooth(method = "loess", size = 1.0, color = "magenta")

World Internet Project Meeting in France

The 2018 World Internet Project Meeting started in Paris, hosted by Sciences Po, with a public conference day addressing the impact of the Internet on societal participation and cross-national perspectives. Organized and hosted by the French World Internet Project partner M@arsouin, the internal meeting continued in Brest, Brittany. The Swiss team presented new results on Internet use and well-being and contributed to the discussion on methodological challenges of longitudinal and comparative survey research.

La Penfeld and Tour Tanguy in Brest

Evolution of and Divides in the Swiss Information Society 2011–2017

In April we will be presenting a new longitudinal analysis of Swiss World Internet Project data at the Annual Conference of the Swiss Association of Communication and Media Research that addresses the adoption rates of the (mobile) Internet and specific uses, how these have evolved between 2011 and 2017, which digital divides regarding use, skills, and perceptions persist and how they have changed.

The study provides nationally representative and long-term data, which allows not only reliable results on current digital divides in Switzerland, but also important insights into their evolution. Thereby, an assessment of the success and suitability of existing policy measures for digital inclusion can be made. Such empirical results have been missing thus far but form a crucial basis and legitimization for potential policies regarding ICT developments. A broad view on Internet use and related perceptions is needed to complement existing, more specific analyses (e.g., use of voting advice applications or health information seeking) to locate structural digital inequalities in the information society. The case of Switzerland as a European country with very high Internet penetration offers indications for policies that also have value for other social democracies where the Internet is crucial for everyday functioning.

Why Does Internet Use Matter?

I recently presented an overview of our most recent studies on digital inequality to argue the relevance of studying Internet use at the Polish Academy of Sciences Institute of Philosophy and Sociology (IFiS PAN) in Warsaw. The conference was dedicated to a transdisciplinary approach to discussing new directions in the sociology of social problems and featured speakers from more than a dozen countries and disciplines such as sociology, economics, history, and philosophy. A short abstract of my talk can be found here.

Street in the Praga disctrict, Warsaw, Poland

Digital Inequality and Online Political Participation

An article I coauthored has been accepted for publication in Socius, an open access journal supported by the American Sociological Association.

A general mobilizing effect of the Internet on political participation has been difficult to demonstrate. This study takes a digital inequality perspective and analyzes the role of Internet expertise for the social structuration of online political participationA distinct group of political online participants emerged characterized by high education and income. Further, online political participation is predicted by political interest and Internet skills, which increasingly mediated the effects of social position.

Preprint Published version of “Testing a Digital Inequality Model for Online Political Participation.”