Media Habits of MENA Youth

AUB & Issam Fares Institute survey on the media habits of MENA youth found the participants highly adept at using new media. “They spent considerable time consuming new and traditional media, but much less time producing media content. This pilot study surveyed 2,744 university and high school students in Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates. It asked about their media consumption and production habits and about their attitudes towards certain media.

For instance, the vast majority of participants indicated that they had never blogged. In addition, those who did produce media content, through blogging or otherwise, tended to do it in a language other than their native language. Indeed, with the exception of news, the majority of surveyed youth consumed and produced media in English, rather than Arabic. In addition, the participants used media predominantly for entertainment,for connecting with others, and for work or schoolwork, but less often for current affairs, for expressing their opinions, or for political activism.

Participants trusted new media to alarming levels, and had little concern about privacy or surveillance threats. They viewed the web as a place for freebees and frequently downloaded media content without paying for it. In addition, most did not click on online ads. Traditional news media, especially print, were among the least used, and the preference was primarily for TV and some new media, but not blogs, which were used least as news sources.

Across all media uses, TV remained king followed by some new media like mobile texting, online social networking and emailing. The findings indicated weak levels of media literacy and news literacy across all groups,but high levels of new media adoption and technology savviness, especially among the younger and more affluent participants.

Differences did emerge across countries, genders, age groups, and education and income levels. These were too numerous to state here, but the following are three highlights:

U.A.E.’s participants and those of mid-to-upper income mainly used English across all media, while those from Jordan and those of lower-to-mid income used Arabic.
Males, older participants and those of higher educationlevel followed the news more often than females, younger participants and those of lower education level.
U.A.E.’s participants and those of mid-to-upper income reported higher usage levels of entertainment media.
The study used a purposive cluster sampling technique and a self-administered questionnaire. It focused on nine areas:
(1) Language use with various media
(2) Online social networking and blogging habits
(3) News consumption
(4) Entertainment and leisure-related media activities
(5) Television habits
(6) Work- or schoolwork-related media activities
(7) Internet use, speed and cost, and computer skills
(8) Attitudes toward the Internet, online restrictions and privacy
(9) Online purchasing and downloading habits ”

Full report can be accessed here.

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