A research study entitled “Young People and the New Media” („Mladi i novi mediji“), conducted last year by Ipsos Strategic Marketing, indicates that the influence of the Internet is growing stronger as the Web has become the primary source of information for 18 percent of Serbian citizens. At the same time, the significance of television is more limited, especially among young people, although it’s still watched every day by 82 percent of citizens – which is five percent less than in 2010. Results of the latest research show that 56 percent of the population aged 12 or more use the Internet (around 3.6 million citizens), while 41 percent use it every day. This percentage is twice as large within the population segment aged 12-29, of which no less than 81 percent use the Internet every day – which constitutes a 13 percent increase in comparison with 2010.
New trends are slowly breaking ground in Serbia, as evidenced by the fact that 40 percent of users read news on the Web every day. However, at the same time, two- thirds of users have never posted a comment on blogs, news sites or forums they, indicating that participation is still not high. Entertainment is still the dominant activity on the Web: Facebook is actively used by 2.1 million citizens. Young people spend 3.5 hours a day on the social media site, two hours out of which involve active participation.
It is interesting to note that half of users claim that the Internet has changed their habits (which is denied by only 6 percent of users), while 70 percent of all interviewees admit that they usually spend more time on the Internet than they planned. The younger population is more interested in entertainment, while the older segment of users spends more time looking for information related to politics, economy and services. Most of the users surf the net between eight o’clock in the evening and midnight.
Results of the latest research therefore confirm that the Internet will soon become the main source of information in Serbia as well, and that survival of the traditional media will largely depend on their ability to adapt to new circumstances and Web 2.0 technologies. This is further evidenced by the fact that the Internet is already used as the primary source of information by 43 percent of the population aged 12-29, i.e. the generation which treats information technologies not as a fashion accessory, but rather as a sensory extension.
The inevitable changes will doubtlessly manifest as an additional burden to the traditional media, which already offer some or all of their content in the online form. However, the most pressing issue deals with how to go about charging for content. Since this problem has not yet been resolved by the much more developed media in the West, Serbia’s domestic media can only hope that the period of their domination will last as long as possible.
The research was conducted using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) on a representative sample of 2088 citizens of Serbia aged 12+ by Ipsos Strategic Marketing agency. The research is a part of the Serbia Media Assistance Program implemented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) via its partner IREX Serbia.