First results on media use in times of Covid-19 from the JIM study 2020

What do students' media use look like in times of the Covid 19 pandemic? What obstacles do they see to homeschooling, and what changes can be observed in device ownership and use compared to previous years? These and other questions are the focus of the current survey from the Youth, Information, Media (JIM) study series, in which 1,200 young people between the ages of 12 and 19 in Germany were interviewed. The JIM Study 2020 will be published at the end of the year. The Medienpädagogische Forschungsverbund Südwest (mpfs) has already presented the first results.

In times of the Covid 19 pandemic, different learning situations have emerged for youth. At the time of the June and July 2020 survey, 69 percent of teens reported learning only intermittently at school, 16 percent are homeschooling exclusively at home, and 12 percent are at school every day. When asked how digital schooling is working out overall, 13 percent give it a grade of 1. Most are in the middle of the pack with their rating: about a third of respondents each give it a grade of 2 (33%) or 3 (30%). However, one-fifth is less comfortable with the situation, with 12 percent giving a grade of 4, four percent a grade of 5, and two percent even a grade of 6. Overall, the grade average for the evaluation for online learning is 2.7.

The situation was handled differently at the schools and various technical solutions were used. Fifty-seven percent of respondents reported that assignments, materials and results were sent via email. Fifty-five percent had access to a school cloud or used their school's online platform. Just under a third (31%) said they used books to learn at school or at home. As a learning platform, 27 percent shared via video conferencing and 15 percent via chats. At the time of the survey, 13 percent used WhatsApp to send assignments, materials and results to accompany lessons.

The biggest barrier to homeschooling cited by more than half of youth (59%) was problems with motivation. Thirty-six percent had difficulty keeping track of  different learning platforms. But difficult general conditions also caused problems with learning. 16 percent complained of a poor Internet connection, and twelve percent had no quiet place to study. About one in ten had problems dealing with technology and six percent did not have all the necessary technical equipment at their disposal.

Of course, the Corona pandemic situation also had an impact on media use during leisure time. For example, videos, movies and series were consumed online more frequently than in the previous year, led by Netflix, which was watched by 59 percent (2019: 46%) of respondents several times a week, with YouTube coming in second (58% (2019: 49%), ahead of Amazon Prime Video (26%, 2019: 17%). Growth is also evident in the use of TV broadcasters' media libraries (17%, 2019: 8%).

The pandemic also ensured an improvement in technical equipment. One in three young people now owns a TV with Internet access (34%, 2019: 20%). There has also been an increase in owning tablets (38%, 2019: 25%) and laptops (56%, 2019: 47%). There has also been an increase in the ownership of wearables, such as smartwatches or fitness bracelets: one in four now has such a device (24%, 2019: 13%).

In terms of the overall Covid-19 situation, nearly two-thirds of teens are concerned about the health of their family and friends (30% fully, 34% largely). Only about half as many worry about their own health (29% agree). One in three is worried about his or her personal future, and 35 percent are concerned about whether they will be able to keep up in class or school.

The full study report of the JIM Study 2020 will be published at the end of the year. This and other mpf studies can be found on the mpfs website.

The Medienpädagogischer Forschungsverbund Südwest is a cooperation of the Landesanstalt für Kommunikation Baden-Württemberg (LFK) and the Medienanstalt Rheinland-Pfalz (LMK). The study was conducted in cooperation with Südwestrundfunk (SWR).

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