Longitudinal Analysis of Media Users and Digital Media

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Culture, Film and Media


Overall research question: How has the usage of and attitudes towards digital media changed over the past decade, and how has this influenced the way we cultivate and maintain relationships? How has our usage of, and attitudes towards, digital media (in terms of the platforms we use, the technology that is available, the amount that we consume, and the manner in which we consume it) evolved other the past ten years? Since the turn of the century, our exposure to, usage of, and attitude towards digital media has exploded. Even since Ofcom began gathering data on digital media usage in 2005, our relationship with the digital mediums available has changed beyond recognition. Our access to digital media is now practically unlimited, with a wealth of devices and platforms now allowing us to have constant access to digital media. The first portion of this research intends to deep dive into how exactly our usage of digital media has changed in this time period. It shall focus on any changes to the amount of usage, on how digital media is consumed, on any differences in usage between key demographic groups, and most importantly, how this has impacted on our 'everyday lives', especially on how we now interact with others. This is a key question to provide a background on changes to our usage of and attitudes towards digital media, and will help lay the foundations for examining how relationships have been influenced. It is only once we understand how our usage of and attitudes towards digital media have changed that we can then examine how this has impacted on other areas of our lives.
How has our change in digital media usage influenced the relationships with those around us, both in 'real life' and online? Has it changed how we interact with others, or influenced how we perceive/ define our relationships with others? Has digital media bought us closer together, or pushed us further apart? Once this research has explored how and why our usage of and attitudes towards digital media has changed, it can then examine the impact this may have had on how our relationships are formed and maintained. This research intends to study how our relationships have changed over the past ten years, and how we feel about this. It shall examine both our relationships 'offline' (i.e. those with our family, our long term friends, workmates, and partners), and our relationships 'online' (e.g. through forums, dating apps, chat rooms, etc.). Access to Ofcom's datasets will ensure that the thoughts, feelings and actions of people over the past decade are examined on a year on year basis, allowing for 'real time' data to be analysed. This research will examine a number of different types of relationships and how they are formed in the digital age, as well as how they are now maintained. Thorough exploration of the Longitudinal Ofcom datasets (with particular focus on the qualitative data) should allow for any changes over the years to be noted and analysed. Has the change in digital media usage made it easier or more 'normal' to carry out a para-social relationship? What impact does this have on an individual's external relationships? This research will explore how these para-social relationships now develop, and how people feel about being in one: do they even realise that one has formed, and if so how do they continue it? It shall examine para-social relationships with both 'normal people' and with celebrities, and examine any differences there may be between them. How do we feel about having a para-social relationship with a distant acquaintance, vs. one with an A list celebrity? Once again, the Ofcom datasets will provide an invaluable insight into how these relationships may have changed over the past decade, as well as allowing us to view the emotional reaction towards these types of relationships through both verbal and non-verbal cues.


10 25 50
Description Through my longitudinal exploration, I have thus far found that there is a powerful link between personal relationships and the uptake and usage of computer mediated communication and its facilitating devices. I have found that there have been drastic changes since 2005, In both usage and attitudes of CMC, and these have been facilitated by changing technologies. As a result, there have been fundamental shifts in how UK participants are conducting their relationships, with CMC becoming a pivotal tool in their day to day relationship management
Exploitation Route Ofcom will be able to utilise my findings to feed into future policy making decisions, especially regarding media literacy. My methodology is unique thus far in the UK on this subject, therefore will contribute to the academic field and provide a range of disciplines an insight into the way in which CMC is shaping personal relationships, and vice versa
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education

Description As my PhD project is a collaborative doctoral award with the UK media regulator Ofcom, my research directly feeds into their work regarding media literacy policy making. I have presented my work to their market research team on two occasions, with plans for me to continue to present my research to wider teams in Ofcom. This research feeds into wider decisions regarding the policies they make and implement, as well as the impact they may have on numerous stakeholders.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Collaborative doctoral award with Ofcom, including a secondment 
Organisation Ofcom
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I provided Ofcom with outputs from my research in presentation and report form. I have been working with them in their head office on a secondment on a range of projects
Collaborator Contribution Ofcom have provided me with access to their data, including raw video footage. This is integral in my research and provides the core data I am utilising for my study
Impact Presentations to the team. My thesis, as their data as been integral for it
Start Year 2019