Mobile Generations: The Role of Mobile Technology in the Shaping of Swedish Media Generations

Göran Bolin, Oscar Westlund


It is often argued that young people are among the first to adopt new media technologies, and that they are especially keen on taking on all new features connected with mobile technology and the Internet. In spite of this oft-repeated claim, one could suspect that since computers and mobile phones have become so widespread among large portions of the populations in the industrialised world, it might not be technology, per se, that distinguishes the young from the old, but rather the actual ways in which it is used. One approach to discuss this is in terms of media generations. It could be expected that generations that have grown up with different mediated experiences during their formative years will relate to the mobile technology in a variety of ways (cf. Mannheim, 1952 & Volkmer, 2006). In this article, three such generations are analysed: the radio/print generation (born in the 1930s), the TV generation (born in the 1950s), and the mobile technology generation (born in the 1980s). Access and usage patterns are researched, and the degree to which the three generations differ when it comes to their relations to mobile technology is discussed, but also the unifying character of the mobile telephony usage. Our methodological approach is quantitative, analysing results from annually conducted postal surveys that are representative for the Swedish population.

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