Are all net generation students the same? The frequency of technology use at university

Hosein, A.; Ramanau, R. and Jones, C. (2010). Are all net generation students the same? The frequency of technology use at university. In: IADIS E-Learning Conference, 26-29 Jul 2010, Freiberg, Germany.


This paper looks at the results of a longitudinal study on how frequently the Net Generation students (i.e. those born in the 1980s) use technologies in their first year of university. Eight technology groupings were explored including web 2.0, social networking and computer software. The research investigated whether older Net Generation students (21-25 years) used technologies differently to the younger Net Generation students (≤20 years). Additional factors such as gender, university type (distance-learning or place-based) and nationality (UK or International) were accounted for during the study. The research found that nationality and university type were influential factors in determining the frequency of use across all technologies at the beginning of the academic year and continued to be influencing factors along with gender at the end of the academic year. Age only seemed to be an important factor for the use of Web 2.0 and social networking sites but these uses of technology were also dependent on students’ university type, gender and nationality. Thus these demographic and social factors have to be considered when analysing technology use or designing educational tools. The findings of this study have implications for research into age-related differences in students’ use of digital technologies and universities’ digital technologies training provision.

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