Since 2010 the JAMES studies have provided information on adolescents’ media use in Switzerland. JAMES stands for Jugend, Aktivitäten, Medien – Erhebung Schweiz [youth, activities, media – survey Switzerland]; the study is representative and conducted every 2 years. Each time, the study surveys over 1,000 adolescents aged 12 to 19 in the three large language regions of Switzerland.
Young people in Switzerland are using their mobile phones during the week and especially at weekends for longer than they did two years ago. Mobile phones are most often used for chatting, surfing or social networking. The most popular social networks are Instagram, Snapchat and now TikTok. The problem is that more and more young people are being sexually harassed online.
In 2020, mobile phone and Internet use is a major part of the everyday media experience of young people in Switzerland. Meanwhile, the self-estimated usage time of mobile phones has increased significantly over the past two years: on a weekend day, it is almost two hours higher at around five hours compared with 2018. During the week, young people use their mobile phones more than three hours a day, 40 minutes longer than in 2018. Internet use, on the other hand, has decreased. Taken together, weekday Internet and mobile phone time remains stable. At the weekend, there is a significant increase of one hour. According to the ZHAW researchers, the fact that part of this year’s survey took place during the coronavirus lockdown may have influenced the results on media use.
“Young people had to stay at home more often during the lockdown and so used their mobile phones all the more intensively”, says ZHAW researcher and co-study leader Daniel Süss, who conducted the JAMES study with co-project leader Gregor Waller and his team. In addition, use of the Internet is increasingly shifting to mobile phones.
For adolescents in Switzerland, Netflix, Spotify & Co. set the tone. Thanks to flat-rate streaming, more than half of young people have unlimited access to films, music, or games. Adolescents communicate mainly by cell phone via Instagram, WhatsApp, or Snapchat. Facebook is now used regularly by only one in five adolescents.
One in three adolescents in Switzerland have a video and music streaming subscription with Netflix, Spotify & Co. These two types of subscriptions have thus more than doubled in the last 2 years.
Even half of all households have these streaming subscriptions. The current JAMES Study 2018 also found that about one quarter of all households have flat-rate subscriptions for unlimited gaming.
"Whereas in previous years it was mainly the spread of smartphones that greatly changed young people’s usage practices, now music and video streaming services are playing a major role."
With smartphones, tablets, and more, young people in Switzerland are now spending 25 per cent more time online than they were 2 years ago. Online, they often watch films on YouTube or Netflix, but they are also using social networks frequently. And for the first time, Instagram and Snapchat have pushed Facebook out of first place in social networks.
Since the first JAMES Study in 2010, the amount of time that young people spend online has increased by one half hour per day: They report that they are online for 2 hours and 30 minutes a day on average on weekdays, and 3 hours and 40 minutes a day on average on the weekend. Because almost all Swiss adolescents own a smartphone and also have flat-rate subscriptions to the Internet, mobile Internet use has become everyday routine. Noteworthy is that young people with a migration background use the Internet more intensively than young people with a Swiss background.
Smartphone saturation among Swiss young people was nearly complete in 2014: According to the JAMES survey, 98 per cent of young people own their own mobile phones, with 97 per cent of them owning smartphones. In 2010 only just half of young mobile phone users owned a smartphone (in 2012: 79 per cent). With the advent of the smartphone, mobile phone use has also changed greatly since 2010. Young people not only make calls with their smartphones but also listen to music, surf the Internet, take photos, check their e-mail, or play games. The biggest change is the use of the mobile Internet: Whereas in 2010 only 16 per cent of the young people surveyed used their mobile phones for online access daily or weekly, today that number is 87 per cent (in 2012: 68 per cent).
Also without smartphones, young people in Switzerland do not lack access to the Internet: Ninety-nine per cent of households with young people are equipped with computers or laptops with Internet access. But the daily duration of online use of approximately two hours on weekdays has not changed over the past few years, and on weekends also it has remained constant at three hours daily. Three out of four Swiss young people regularly use social networking online; 89 per cent are registered users of at least one social network. Facebook is the most popular again in 2014, followed closely by Instagram. Google+ and Twitter have also increased their user numbers in recent years.
Non-media recreational activities have remained constant – despite smartphones, tablets, and more – since 2010: Seventy-nine per cent of young people continue to enjoy meeting friends very frequently, and 60 per cent sometimes relaxed doing nothing at all.
In addition to media and non-media leisure-time activities, the JAMES Study 2012 focused mainly on media contents. "Titanic", "Harry Potter", and "How I Met Your Mother" head the young people’s media ranking list. Their top apps are WhatsApp and Facebook.
The smartphone boom has had a big impact on cell phone use since the JAMES Study 2010, especially through the constant access to the Internet. Nevertheless, young people are not spending more time on the Internet than they were 2 years ago, and problematic experiences such as cyberbullying have not increased. On social networks, young people are being more careful about protecting their privacy than they were 2 years ago. When listening to music, using the Internet, watching television, and using the telephone/texting, young people often use different media and screens at the same time. This “media multitasking” is widespread among young people.
The JAMES Study was conducted for the first time in 2010. It revealed that young people in Switzerland make active and individual use of their free time – with media and with no media. They use the Internet and social networks with high technical competency and make full use of diverse functions of the hybrid medium — the mobile phone. Differentiated data can reveal inadequate use of the media by young people as well as possible starting points for prevention.