The term “digital media” refers to all electronic media, which operate on the basis of digital information and communication technology (Reimann/Eppler 2008). Their opposites are analog media. Digital media have become a communication media that functions on the basis of digital information and communication technology. On the other hand they represent technical equipment for digitizing, calculation, recording, storage, etc. of digital content (Wikipedia 2008).
“Revolution” generally means an overthrow or downfall. In our context, digital revolution describes the rapid and profound changes that have been coming along with the digital media in the last 30 years.
Describing scientifically the situation in Germany should help in obtaining a closer look at the digital revolution, where one can assume that the situation in other countries proceeded or will proceed very similarly, maybe a few years earlier or later.
Sociologists characterize a “modernization” in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s by television. Many researchers link this medium with far-reaching cultural and social changes, using phrases like “Television childhood” and the “loss of childhood” (maybe someone remembers the title of the famous book by the American sociologist Neil Postman). They feared considerably poorer conditions for the development of their children. To date, parents are insecure and researchers discuss the question of whether young people are negatively affected by television in the development of their personality. (Fölling-Albers 2001, 4).
In the 1990s, especially in the late 1990s—I’m talking about the past 10 years—a further development became apparent, which may be called the “second wave of modernization.” Beyond television, CD players, etc. there are now computers, mobile phones and the Internet, which gained importance at least in terms of older children and young people. On the one hand they did so as status symbols, on the other hand, as modified and enhanced media capabilities of information gathering and communication: Internet, e-mails, SMS etc. (Fölling-Albers 2001, 34), Facebook, etc.
For the first time in history, the American Internet store Amazon has sold more e-books than printed books—a fact that clearly shows how much the world is influenced by digital media (SZ 05./06.03.2011).
Furthermore, the newest developments presented on the “CEBIT”—the arguably largest computer convention in the world—make clear, that the technical development of digital media is not yet complete. Mobiles are not only used for calling, they serve as organizers, calculators, cameras, VCRs, small computers with Internet access which can download movies. In a recent development they are even used for creating and playing movies in 3-D format without glasses!
And again: parents, teachers, scientists are scared by the running development and the running market of digital media and their influence on adolescents.
Some empirical studies are sought to support the current distribution and importance of digital media for young people.
2.1 Due to the variety of data, we focus our analyses to adolescents between 14 and 18 years, since this age group is taking part in the Youth Olympic Games. It was a special demand of the IOC, that—in context of the cultural part of the official program of the YOG—young people from all over the world should be taught how to work with digital media.
The following facts are taken from the “Hans-Bredow-Institut” in Hamburg which gathers information about the use of media worldwide. The information is updated every year. The last edition is the 28th edition from the year 2009. Some more of the following facts are taken from the “Media Education Research Association Southwest” (= mpfs). They go back to the surveys in 2010, in which 1,208 young people between 12 and 19 years (51% boys and 49% girls) were interviewed by telephone between May and July 2010. These researches focus media in general—and within this digital media, too.
(JIM-Study 2010, 6)
Figure 1 shows that nearly all German households do have mobiles, computers/laptops and Internet access.
|Number of Internet Subscribers||76,711||91,787||121,000||150,220||179,440||253,149||281,257|
|Number of Internet Subscribers /1000 Inhabitants||7.8||9.24||12.12||14.9||17.6||24.66||27.15|
|Number of Internet Users||505,500||630,000||835,000||953,770||1,294,910||1,722,190||2,800,000|
|Number of Internet Users /1000 Inhabitants||50.9||63.5||83.66||94.57||127.07||167.75||270.25|
|Number of Websites||898||1,622||1,775||4,028||4,930||5,796||4,467|
Reference: Ministère des Technologies de la Communication, www.infocom.tn/index.php?id=26
(Hans-Bredow-Institut 2009, 1208)
Table 1 shows the rapid increase in the spread of the Internet use (in many respects between 4 to 6 times in 6 years).
(Hans-Bredow-Institut 2009, 918)
Table 2: According to the data about Indonesia, the spread of Internet access and mobiles still seems to be near the beginning.
|inhabitants in Mio.||30.2||33.4|
|PC (incl. notebook)||0.5|
|Internet users in Mio.||1.5|
|Conventional telephones (total)||309,379||299,300|
|Mobiles (in Mio.)||0.14||7.3|
Research from: CCK 2005, APC Africa
(Hans-Bredow-Institut 2009, 988)
Table 3: In Kenya there are signs of a similar development as in Indonesia. Note in particular the increase concerning Internet access and mobiles.
(JIM-Study 2010, 7)
Figure 2: In many German households digital media are to be found several times. On average there are 4 mobile phones, 2.7 computers and 2.4 televisions per household. In other words, over 50% of households own three or more computers and 42% do own at least 3 televisions. More than 88% of households possess 3 or more phones (JIM-Study 2010, 7f.)
(JIM Studies 2010, 8)
Figure 3: 97% of young German people between 12 and 19 years have their own mobile phone, 79% have their own computer or their own laptop, and more than 50% have their own Internet access. These data are similar for girls and boys (JIM 2010, 7f).
(JIM Studies 2010, 12)
Figure 4: In terms of daily use, mobiles rank first. However, these findings do not surprise as mobile phones more and more turn into small portable computers.
2.2.8 Content related distribution of Internet use
(mpfs 2008, 16)
Figure 5 is of particular interest as it reflects the high proportion of Internet communication. Especially girls (56%) spend significantly more time online in comparison to their male peers (42%).
Summing up this overview, there is no doubt that the digital revolution in adolescents occurs worldwide and that it influences our reality. Whether we like it or not, we will definitely not be able to stop it.
Similarly is the finding that adolescents often do handle those new media much easier than adults and that the new media considerably changed everyday life, leisure time and thus the life of adolescents (Fölling-Albers 2001, 38).
The digital media can be viewed as one of the pillars of the globalized world. An almost unlimited access to all kinds of information is possible within the shortest time almost everywhere around the world.
It also seems important to note that access to the desired entertainment (e.g. movies) or information is immediately possible at any time. Digital media provide the possibility of directly participating in events happening in politics, business, sports etc. It is no longer necessary to wait for the newspaper on the next day to get information about the newest developments. How fast Internet groups form, could recently be observed in the affair about the German minister of defence zu Guttenberg. Even before the largest newspaper in Germany was able to barrack with zu Guttenberg, tens of thousands of PHD-students had already formed to a powerful opposition in the web. Since then, experts consider the Internet as the fifth power in the state (next to the judical, executive etc.).
Not only the speed of digital media, but their almost unlimited amount of data must be noted. Without doubt: This is positive. But this is also associated with problems: On the one hand there is the problem of information overload and the danger of losing oneself in it. The distinction between important and unimportant contents is absolutely necessary for the users of digital media. Especially when you look at adolescents it is doubtful whether they can always meet this distinction sufficiently.
On the other hand, it is often discussed whether in fact all information should be accessible to everyone or not. The recently published WikiLeaks-revelations about US-American assessments of politicians around the world is just one example.
Another observation has already been said to be the major cause for the loss of childhood in our present time by Neil Postman: children and young people have access to all information and pictures of the adult world. These images range from images of horror after natural disasters or from war zones, to glorification of violence, to pornography.
Internationally recognized brain researchers point out that the human brain is always learning. It continuously learns and stores the results of what is being offered to it. There are a number of studies from the U.S., demonstrating a direct link between aggressive content of media (TV, Internet) and aggressive behaviour of the consuming people (Spitzer 2010; Kölner call; and references to Bedenk 2010, 11). The effectiveness especially of the role model of aggressive simulation games is regarded as problematic if there are “aggressive tendencies as a result of experienced psychosocial attention deficits in childhood or because of previously experienced success of their own aggression” (Mogel 2008, 206).
Their prevalence is as unclear as the question of whether in post-modern societies, such as through changes in family structures, they may increase or not. Basically, this problem can be cut right to the chase whether everything should and can actually be accessible for everyone. Even if one denies this question, the question of how to block non-desired contents still remains. Think of the area of child pornography.
In addition, the information in words and pictures are of political power; it crucially determines the public perception of an event: This was clearly the case in the Iraq war, in Germany with Stuttgart 21, or is currently happening in the states of North Africa. It seems only logical that those in power try to control the information spread by the mass media. Especially in the current political situation in the North African states it is getting obvious that digital media play a vital and important role concerning the people´s communication options. It seems as if the race between the suppression of free digital communication and the removal of corresponding blocks was of decisive meaning for the outcome of the political events.
Without a doubt, the technically innovative design of digital media has a challenging character for adolescents. Especially with regard to the computer games (on- or offline), their attractiveness rises by showing more perfect, more varied and more diverse games in bursts and by a variety of ways to involve the players. Sometimes, it seems like adolescents disregard their personality development. Is this really true?
If one follows the theory that toys can be seen as witnesses of their age and we see our time unmistakably characterized by computers, it is logical that video and computer games expand. Since many computer-games are for being played alone in front of the screen, this circumstance pokes the fear that adolescents play alone too often and too long. Especially in single children there is an increased risk of lack of social contacts and additional social isolation. On the other hand it is suggested that “multi-player games” are suitable for promoting social contacts with each other. It is also observed that adolescents spend entire afternoons and nights to beat high scores (Mogel 2008, 192ff.) being linked to each other in LAN sessions. Under the label of e-sports major national and international communities have come together to play their digital games within regular events and championships in an organized form of competition—some with prizes exceeding € 100,000 (eg. EPS Finals from June 13-14, 2009) (Wiemeyer 2009, 127). Therefore, M. Bedenk sees the image of some popular “lonely” computer players, ever since the development of online multi-player games, as outdated. The Internet offers both, significant opportunities to play online with and against each other and to communicate during the game and after. Of course, it has to be noted that social exchange taking place here is media-mediated and does not take place through a direct encounter. On the one hand, this leads to the fact that for example the communication partners are not able to respond to facial expressions or gestures, so that information is lost. On the other hand, it is easy to meet with new players and conversation partners from other countries or cultures (Bedenk 2010, 51f.).
The question whether children become isolated by the intensive use of digital media is, therefore, answered differently by experts. However, it is of concern, that playing computer games limits the meaning of experiences in the visual and acoustic sense, whereas the so-called “secondary experience” prevail and the “primary experience” gets lost (Horn 2010).
Although many games are now constructed in a very realistic way, such as flight simulators, the concept of reality, e.g. in the game “Need for Speed,” in which accidents can happen over and over again without any consequences, remains questionable. Also, a canoeing-trip in the computer game can—despite the many dangers that come along from time to time—not be compared to a real canoeing-trip. Not to mention the correspondence to reality of so called “shooters” in which as many people as possible must be killed without any real consequences.
Of course, one could argument, that the reference of the player who is playing in fictional and illusory worlds, is completely real (Mogel 2008, 196ff) comparable to the role-playing games that are an integral part of the child’s game development. In contrast, the neuroscientist M. Spitzer considers that the human brain is constantly changing with its use and therefore the use of digital media does have an impact on the growth of individuals. M. Spitzer summarizes these effects by the loss of the holistic learning and the negative impact on emotional and socio-psychological processes (Spitzer 2010).
The typical movement character of games mostly comes short in the use of digital media. By using mouse and keyboard, motor processes are limited to fine motor skills and therefore to a minimum. However, it can not be said, that gamers actually move less. A global review of studies on computer use and physical activity (eg, Maaz 2005; Brettschneider & Naul 2004; Lorber 2006; Marshall 2004; Schneider, Dunton, Cooper 2007; Koezuka 2006, etc. - and references to Wiemeyer 2009, 123ff) documents a heterogeneous situation. A general negative impact of digital games is - if any - weak (Wiemeyer 2009, 125).
The above-mentioned periods of use of digital media and the increase in time in front of the TV in Germany - German adults in 2010 watched TV at an average of 223 minutes per day (MB 04.01.2011) - suggest that the use of modern media could contribute to a lack of exercise. Obviously also the computer game industry has recognized the call for action. Thus, increasingly, digital games are offered, which require the activity of the whole-body, e.g. Dance Revolution or Wii. However, anyone who has ever played “tennis” on Wii will probably agree that this has only very little in common with real tennis or whole-body activity. Also, studies show that energy expenditure - under appropriate intensity and the involvement of large muscle groups - may rise to 8 kcal / minute. However, to reach the generally recommended health-related physiological threshold of 1000 kcal / week, we would have to spend more than 2 hours a week playing. The declining motivation, which is adjusted in these games relatively quickly (eg Madsen et al., 2007), suggests that the lack of physical activity of adolescents in Europe and the U.S. can not be adequately met by playing these games (Wiemeyer, 2009, 124ff. ). Also the statement that digital games could be specifically used “to convey techniques or disciplines” (Wiemeyer 2009, 126) in sports must currently be considered as illusory.
The innovative aspect in the communications by phone and computer is that both communication partners are accessible at anytime and anywhere. The desire to tell someone, even about trivia, does not need to be delayed. Similar to the access to information, also the desired communication partners can be reached immediately, regardless of their staging.
Computers and the Internet offer a platform for self-expression and self-presentation, as everyone is and would be appreciated to be seen. This possibility fits the need of post-modern societies, in which broken predetermined roles, traditions and self-understandings are substituted by the need to find their individuality and embody themselves (Bette 1999; 2008, 361; Wetz 2008). Facebook, for example, offers a global platform for this purpose which allows you to publish pictures and information about yourself that you would like to make available to the public. The fact that some people allow a closer look into their private lives, and that they give personal information to other people in other contexts (eg. job applications) are not necessarily advantageous of the “glass man.” The variety of friendships certainly provides the possibility to find old friends and/or make new friends. Who ultimately gets you by which attention appears problematic especially in the adolescence. A good thing is the possibility to reject or terminate “friendships.” Another new aspect of those media is that you can terminate friendships even without facing each other.
Finally, there are three developments by the digital media which accelerate the existing trends on television. First, there is a loss of a prior choice what you want to see or what one wants to deal with. Digital media offer you ideal conditions to surf and then, if something seems interesting, to stick with it. In addition, here you may encounter the phenomenon of “zapping.” You do not want to see anything in particular; therefore, you are searching the almost unlimited possibilities for what could be interesting. Finally, the internet more and more invites you for “multi-tasking”: research information on the Internet, listen to music and communicate at the same time. Such behavior is in clear contrast to the traditional philosophical or educational positions demanding “concentration.” Here, however, also brain research warns, which emphasizes that the human brain can do only one thing. Thus, it is shown that Multi-tasking just does not enhance hiding distracting stimuli and switching between tasks (Spitzer 2010). M. Wolf also expressed in her book “The reading brain”—where she writes about changes in the brains of the users by digital media—that “more” and “faster” does not necessarily mean “better” (Spitzer 2010). A causal relationship between lack of concentration, attention deficits, etc., and multi-tasking is obvious, although the variety of studies in this regard are another matter.
At all mentioned points, findings are contradictory. Rejectors and supporters are equally distributed. For further research, it is imperative to involve on the one hand, both the digital media and the person using it and the particular situation of use (Bedenk 2010, 31). On the other hand it´s important to involve the many scientific disciplines that deal with the “new” media, in an integrative approach (Bedenk 2010, 11).
The assessment of a case, for example the digital media always happens within the interactions between perception, explanation, and values of the evaluator (Bedenk 2010, 24). The consideration of the first two issues has shown that the current globalized world is essentially determined by the digital media. Those who want to participate in the current “world society,” must have access to digital media and have the know-how of its use. As a further development an even wider use of digital media is to be expected in the future, especially adolescents are affected by this development: thus, the world of digital media is increasingly becoming the world of young people. The above-mentioned third aspect—the values—is necessarily subjective. Here, it is therefore made in the form of theses, which should serve as a basis for discussion:
Thesis 1: The information-presentation and dissemination of the Olympic idea and the Olympic ideals must be presented to the young people by the media they use. Since these are primarily digital media, Olympism has to represent the Olympic movement by using that media if Olympism wants to reach the young people around the world without being redundant.
Thesis 2: Opportunities for access to and know-how of the use of digital media is to be regarded as an extended condition of understanding in our contemporary world. A division of the world into a (majority) part of digital media and a (smaller) part of non-digital-media would mean a further injustice that would be against the peace idea of Olympism. This is the case when “peace” within the meaning of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant is seen as a just (world) order, which includes far more than a silence of weapons (Kant 1999).
Thesis 3: As digital media involve certain risks, it would be irresponsible to let young people alone with dealing with the digital media and the commercial interests of suppliers who deliver them. In contrast, an education for meaningful use of digital media in general and in the spirit of Olympism is essential. The Olympic ideal of perfection of the individual was certainly possible without digital media. But now that they have become an integral part of our world an educational mission regarding the development of the personality is connected with them. This also includes the global sport in its exercise, its media presentation and a critical assessment. Fair play, especially in highest level sports (which media are interested in and where everyone is almost condemned to success), still plays a major role here as an ethical scale.
Thesis 4: As digital media disseminate the sedentary world, it is important to show young people again and again the usefulness of physical activity, to educate them about exercise, sports and games and to give them the joy of sports competition in order to communicate fairness and mutual respect to themselves and to others. To move, play games and do sports so that it enriches the lives, that it contributes to well-being and satisfaction and that it provides a sense of achievement and happiness - this is a part of the Olympic education, especially in the world of digital media (Horn 2009).
Thesis 5: If the YOG really wants to create a new understanding of Olympism for young people it is not enough to just set another international sport event for them. It is necessary to try new ways. And one way can be to educate them as it is intended in a CEP and to include the understanding and responsible use of digital media.