Synchronicity matters: defining the characteristics of digital generations
Taipale, S. (2016). Synchronicity matters: defining the characteristics of digital generations. Information, Communication & Society, 19 (1), 80-94. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2015.1093528
Published inInformation, Communication & Society
© 2015 Taylor & Francis. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Taylor & Francis. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
This paper investigates whether or not the proposition that the second digital generation (or so-called digital natives) is more engaged in social use of the Internet than older generations is tenable. By analysing nationally representative questionnaire-based survey data collected from Finland in 2011 (N = 612), the study shows that rather than social use of the Internet in general, it is the synchronicity of online communication that distinguishes user generations. Results show that, in contrast to asynchronous modes of online communication (e.g. social networking sites, blogs and online discussion forums), synchronous modes (e.g. instant messaging and Internet calls) are clearly generationally differentiated practices. They are more frequently used by the second digital generation than the first digital generation and digital immigrants. Furthermore, the study shows that asynchronous uses of the Internet are clearly gendered in nature. Women are more typically users of social networking sites and blogs than men, whereas men are more often engaged with discussion forums than women. These results are discussed in light of two concepts: privacy and communicative efficacy. The studied forms of synchronous online communication provide more privacy as well as an instant and abundant channel for effective communication, which are all features especially appreciated by the youngest user generation. ...