Adolescents’ New Media Literacy in Flanders (Belgium)


  • Steve Paulussen IBBT-MICT, Ghent University
  • Cédric Courtois IBBT-MICT, Ghent University
  • Peter Mechant IBBT-MICT, Ghent University
  • Pieter Verdegem IBBT-MICT, Ghent University



Media literacy, youth, Internet use, digital culture


Teenagers are often described as digital natives having an open orientation, a strong belief in equality and a desire to be judged based on their contributions. However, the cracks in this story are apparent. Several authors argue that teenagers strongly differ in their skills and critical attitude to benefit fully and safely from the Internet’s expressive potential. This paper presents the results of a large scale survey based on a sample of 1725 Flemish teenagers representative for gender, education type and grade, questioning adolescents’ adoption of and attendance to media technologies. The findings emphasize the role of context in understanding differences in (young) people’s media behavior. As almost all youngsters are online, new inequalities seem to emerge between those who have new media at their individual and private disposal, and those with lesser, or at least more limited, opportunities to participate in today’s digital media culture. Another finding confirms the success of Social Network Sites (SNS), which is often tied to the eventual participation of a large portion of their user base. We also discern a small but substantial proportion of adolescents publishing personal information on his or her profile page, which raises fundamental questions about adolescents’ online risk awareness.




How to Cite

Paulussen, S., Courtois, C., Mechant, P., & Verdegem, P. (2010). Adolescents’ New Media Literacy in Flanders (Belgium). Observatorio (OBS*), 4(4).