‘When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure.’ Rudolph Bahro

The Youth Hub engages in research in order to better understand the culture in which young people are immersed. This research informs the resources we produce.

Mapping the Digital Neighbourhood of South African Youth

Our latest project explores the nature of relationships in a world that is characterised by the seamless integration of digital technology into the lives of young people.

This research was presented at the Annual European conference of the International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry in Prague, 2014.

Summary of findings:
Number of participants: 534
Average age: 15.5

Key Numbers:
72% said they felt they could have a meaningful connection with someone in a one-on-one setting. This is in contrast to 19% who said this could happen through instant messaging and just 4% on Facebook
75% said they prefer face-to-face connections with friends, 5% said they prefer only digital connections
80% said they would rather give up their phone for a week if that meant they could see their friends on the weekend
20% said they would rather have access to their phone for the week instead of seeing their friends on the weekend
68% said that the use of cellphones when they are with their friends makes the time less meaningful

What does life in the digital neighbourhood look like?

  • Although there is significant use of digital technology young people have a clear preference for face-to-face interaction
  • Digital technology can enrich but also interfere with face-to-face interactions
  • Benefit of digital technology in transcending the constraints of time and geography
  • Habitual tendency to progress from ‘can’ to ‘will’ to ‘must’ can lead to distracting intrusion. Availability plus affordability leads to indispensability

The people who engaged the WordSpace via instant message for help with a personal issue did so because of a combination of three factors:

  • availability (‘I had no-one else to go to’)
  • anonymity (‘it’s easier to talk to someone you don’t know’)
  • trustworthiness (‘I knew you wouldn’t judge’)

Download the full conference paper here

Download a summary Powerpoint presentation here