Since 2009, imec have been publishing an annual Digimeter report that attempts to assess how and to what extent digital technologies are used in Flanders. Flanders Today reports that the 2018 report is now out.
The headline news is that, this year, they have focussed on attitudes to technology and divided the region into five groups ranging from the Passionate Lover (of technology), who sees smartphones and social media as wholly wonderful, to the Distant Acquaintance, who is totally disinterested in digital media or technology.
The Dutch part of the site also links to a set of ten questions that you can use to assess your own Digimeter profile. And I can never resist a quiz.
You are quite happy as a bachelor with regard to technology, and at this moment you are certainly not interested in a fixed relationship with digital media. For that you are too worried about the many disadvantages that go with it: personal data that are misused, the spread of fake news, the addictive nature of the smartphone and social media…
If necessary, you can find your way into the digital world, but you can also enjoy offline forms of media.
This sounds like a reasonably fair description of me — I do have social media accounts, but I also avoid the big data mines like Facebook and Twitter and would prefer to spend my time reading a book, playing a game or watching a film. I was, however, a bit surprised to note that, elsewhere on the site, this makes me the opposite of the Passionate Lovers and a fierce opponent of technology. That strikes me as a bit of an overstatement of how I feel.
Elsewhere the report notes that, while people do feel better informed thanks to the internet, there is also an awareness of the challenges it brings, especially in the guise of fake news. Consequently, reliance on social media for news is declining (a very good thing, in my opinion), especially among 16 to 24 year olds, with people falling back on traditional news outlets and real journalists to stay informed. Social media is still heavily used, but is declining as a news source and hopefully this trend will continue.
I’ve not read the full report yet, but the site is nicely laid out allowing you to poke around whichever chapter happens to catch your interest. Although the survey was carried out in Flanders, I would assume that the Flemish are reasonably representative of Western Europe.