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Conflicting Norms - How Norms of Disconnection and Availability Correlate With Digital Media Use Across Generations


Geber, Sarah; Nguyen, Minh Hao; Büchi, Moritz (2023). Conflicting Norms - How Norms of Disconnection and Availability Correlate With Digital Media Use Across Generations. Social Science Computer Review:1-22.

Abstract

Digital disconnection has emerged as a response to constant connectivity and the perceived harms to well-being that technology overuse may cause in a digital society. Despite the apparent conflict with expectations of constant availability, there has been limited research on the role of social norms in individuals’ regulation of their digital media use. The present study applied a nuanced conceptualization of social norms—by differentiating referent groups (i.e., family, friends, and everyday contacts) as well as injunctive and descriptive norms—and examined the associations of disconnection and availability norms with disconnection behavior across two generations of digital media users. Drawing on an online survey based on a stratified population sample ( N = 1163), we found perceptions of injunctive disconnection norms to differ across generations, with younger digital media users perceiving digital disconnection but also availability to be more important to their social environment. This conflict of contradictory norms was also reflected in an interactional effect on own disconnection behavior in this group, where positive correlations between disconnections norms and behavior were countered by availability norms. Overall, our findings demonstrate the social complexity of the individual decision to (dis)connect and, on the societal level, that social norms of disconnection are in transition with disconnection behavior becoming and being perceived as more and more important.

Abstract

Digital disconnection has emerged as a response to constant connectivity and the perceived harms to well-being that technology overuse may cause in a digital society. Despite the apparent conflict with expectations of constant availability, there has been limited research on the role of social norms in individuals’ regulation of their digital media use. The present study applied a nuanced conceptualization of social norms—by differentiating referent groups (i.e., family, friends, and everyday contacts) as well as injunctive and descriptive norms—and examined the associations of disconnection and availability norms with disconnection behavior across two generations of digital media users. Drawing on an online survey based on a stratified population sample ( N = 1163), we found perceptions of injunctive disconnection norms to differ across generations, with younger digital media users perceiving digital disconnection but also availability to be more important to their social environment. This conflict of contradictory norms was also reflected in an interactional effect on own disconnection behavior in this group, where positive correlations between disconnections norms and behavior were countered by availability norms. Overall, our findings demonstrate the social complexity of the individual decision to (dis)connect and, on the societal level, that social norms of disconnection are in transition with disconnection behavior becoming and being perceived as more and more important.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:070 News media, journalism & publishing
Uncontrolled Keywords:Law, Library and Information Sciences, Computer Science Applications, General Social Sciences
Language:English
Date:18 November 2023
Deposited On:20 Nov 2023 15:44
Last Modified:31 Jan 2024 02:44
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0894-4393
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/08944393231215457
Project Information:
  • : FunderDepartment of Communication and Media Research
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderDigital Society Initiative at University of Zurich
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)