Technological acceptance and media literacy 2005-2018: a longitudinal study of outlooks before, during and post internet adoption


  • Lauren Dempsey University of Nottingham



The growth and acceptance of the internet and associated technology has led to drastic social change regarding day-to-day behaviour. Whilst the uptake of changing technology has been extensively researched, studies tend to focus on the dichotomy between ‘user’ and ‘non-user’ adoption and behaviour. This paper builds on existing knowledge by longitudinally exploring nuances within the ‘user’ grouping, answering two research questions: what discrepancies exist in attitudes shown by those considered as ‘users’, and what implications may these have for obtaining and maintaining media literacy? This study analysed data from the UK communication regulator Ofcom’s Adult Media Lives project; a qualitative study consisting of annual in-home in-depth interviews with the same 18 participants between 2005- 2018. Through a thematic analysis of the raw video footage from each interview, this unique methodology provides a deeper understanding of how the same ‘users’’ outlooks may change over time, exposing how changing attitudes can be a key driver behind the development of media literacy. Four different attitudes were identified: enthusiastic, accepting, resistant and apprehensive. Following positive or negative experiences participants’ outlooks altered over time, shaping their use and often motivating a movement between these fluid attitudinal categories. With these attitudinal shifts their media literacy skills also fluctuated, illustrating how the obtainment of literacy is a volatile, non-linear process, shaped by personal experiences. This study exposes the limitations of only examining a ‘user’/ ‘non-user’ dichotomy, and highlights the importance of considering the nuances between ‘users’ when studying media literacy.