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Keywords:

  • cluster analysis;
  • factor analysis;
  • games;
  • interactive media;
  • survey;
  • user patterns

Abstract

The intensive use of interactive media has led to assertions about the effect of these media on youth. Rather than following the assumption of a distinct Net generation, this study investigates diversity in interactive media use among youth. Results from a pilot study show that contemporary youth can be divided into clusters based on the use of interactive media. These results call for a better understanding of these clusters and the characteristics of their members. The research question for this paper was: Can patterns be found in the interactive media activities and opinions of young people? We answer this question by a survey among 2138 Dutch students aged 9 to 23 in education levels ranging from primary to higher professional education. Four categories of interactive media activities were discerned using confirmatory factor analysis: interacting, performing, interchanging, and authoring. Four clusters of interactive media users, namely Traditionalists, Gamers, Networkers, and Producers were identified using cluster analysis. Behind these straightforward categories, complex patterns of user activities and opinions can be found. The implication is that education should be cautious in applying these media as learning tools, because contemporary students show diversity in the kinds of interactive media they prefer using.