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Department of Communication and Media Research Media Use & Effects

Completed Projects

The impact of information and communication on public transport safety

In Germany, about 10 billion public transport rides are made every year. Passengers expect a high level of security in vehicles and at stops. However, the perceived security of passengers not only depends on objective safety, which is still high in comparison with other means of transport and life situations.

Due to this discrepancy between actual and perceived security, we are investigating the effects of information and communication on passengers’ feeling of security. Hereby we include different types of communication such as information and communication messages by public transport operators, media coverage, and the use of mobile devices during the journey.

Based on an extensive content analysis, a representative survey, a panel study with mobile experience sampling, experiments on the effects of campaign messages, and expert interviews we develop recommendations for communication activities of public transport operators.

Our research is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany.

Cooperation partners: University of Bremen, Free University Berlin, Technische Hochschule Wildau, Fraunhofer Institut für Offene Kommunikationssysteme FOKUS, Deutsche Bahn AG
Involved Persons: Thomas Friemel, Dennis Reichow

Social dynamics of media use

Digitalisation has not only lead to an increase in media content provided but also creates new opportunities for interacting with and about media content. Sharing links to YouTube videos, posting tweets on TV shows, or commenting online news articles are just a few examples how social interactions have become an inherent part of today’s media and our everyday life. We investigate the social dynamics (on- and offline) related to media use in order to understand how digitalisation affects media use, social structures, and the media themselves.

We are especially interested in adolescent’s media use since they are oftentimes more open for technological innovations and our research shows that their media use is closely linked to their social context. We collaborate with various schools in Switzerland and Germany and are specialised in collecting and analysing longitudinal network data.

In order to identify potential negative consequences of online media and to develop appropriate coping strategies we support the OECD developing respective recommendations. OECD-Workshop

Social dynamics of health behavior among adolescents and young adults

The four-year research project (2018-2022) investigated social dynamics among adolescents and their role regarding individual health behavior (e.g., tobacco and alcohol consumption). We provided insight into the selection and influence processes among friends, peers and schoolmates and considered both off- and online communication. The project was financially supported by the federal Tobacco Prevention Fund and drew on the National Strategy for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases of the Federal Office of Public Health. Findings make a direct contribution to the activities of the Tobacco Prevention Fund and the FOPH.

In spring 2019, we conducted interviews with 15- to 19-year-olds to explore social media use and the perception and production of content related to risk behavior. After consolidating findings with practitioners, we conducted a three-wave network survey at five secondary schools between August 2019 and August 2020. The analysis of friendship and communication networks provides insight into the role of social contacts and perceived content online. In the summer of 2021, a representative survey was conducted among adolescents and young adults in Switzerland. On the one hand, the findings offer important insight to substance use and associated attitudes and normative beliefs. On the other hand, the study allows an in-depth look into adolescent's consumption and production patterns on different platforms. Findings from the survey were discussed in webinars and network meetings of practitioners and published in research reports and scientific journals.

Frey, T. & Friemel, T. N. (2021). Substanzkonsum unter Jugendlichen und jungen Erwachsenen in der Schweiz im Jahr 2021. Eine repräsentative Befragung unter 15- bis 19-Jährigen. Zürich: Universität Zürich pdf

Geber, S., Frey, T. & Friemel, T. N. (2021). Social media use in the context of drinking onset: The mutual influences of social media effects and selectivity. Journal of Health Communication, 26(8), 566-575.

Frey, T. & Friemel, T. N. (2021). Tabakkonsum on- und offline: Der Einfluss der Instagram- und Snapchat-Nutzung auf normative Vorstellungen und das Konsumverhalten unter Jugendlichen. In F. Sukalla & C. Voigt (Hrsg.), Risiken und Potenziale in der Gesundheitskommunikation. Beiträge zur Jahrestagung der DGPuK-Fachgruppe Gesundheitskommunikation 2020 (S. 79-88). Leipzig: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft e.V. pdf

Frey, T. & Friemel, T. N. (2019). Tabak- und Alkoholkonsum on- und offline. Leitfadeninterviews mit Jugendlichen & Experteninterviews mit Akteuren aus der Praxis. Kurzbericht zu zentralen Befunden. Zürich: Universität Zürich. pdf (PDF, 252 KB)