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Chapter 8: The Media Diet of University ... > METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS - Pg. 87

The Media Diet of University Students in Italy than in the general population, with one third of the students involved in the sample maintaining an own blog, compared to eight percent of all U.S. Internet users. Not surprisingly, Facebook seems to be one of the more popular SNS: 36 percent of students uses it every day, and 21 percent of the sample log on to their profile several time a day. However, a consistent part of the sample (37 percent) never or almost never logged on to Facebook: this once again warns us against the possibility of drawing general conclusions on the propensity of university students to engage in on line communication and social networking activities. The brief review we have presented so far concerned studies and research that were per- formed almost exclusively in the U.S., with partial exceptions represented by a couple of work done in Australia and Canada and by Anderson's work (2001), that concerned both the U.S and Ireland. As a matter of fact, data on the European context are very hard to find in the literature. As far as the Italian context is concerned, the only data available on the level of new media access and consumption are those included in periodical reports such as the ones issued by the Osservatorio permanente sui contenuti digitali (Permanent observatory on digital contents) (www.osservatoriocontenuti- digitali.it), that anyway present some well known limitations, as they come from a private source and they are not always disaggregated by age cohort. Useful as they may be to have a general snapshot of the Italian context, this type of data clearly are not enough to support an analytical sound discussion of university students behav- iours and attitudes toward new media. In order to start filling this gap in data availability, that in our view seriously constraints the possibility of developing a more consistent debate on these topics, we have started in 2008 to perform a series of yearly research on the Media diet of university students. In this paper we present some of the most relevant findings coming out of the first research, performed between January and May 2008 on a sample of undergraduate students at the University of Milan-Bicocca. At present, we are completing the second edition of this research, on a different sample of undergraduate students at the same University, and we are planning to extend our work to include other universities and institutions for higher education. METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS During the first months of 2008, the research team of the Observatory on New Media "nu- MediaBios" of the University of Milan-Bicocca started to develop a comprehensive research on the "media diet", and more specifically on university students (18-22 years old) styles and profiles of media consumption and usage. The decision of focusing on this particular population was driven by some specific reasons, linked to our main research interests. While there are, in the literature, some evidences available concerning the relationships between ICTs and pupils and adolescents (Pedrò, 2006), there seem to be, as already mentioned, quite a lack of available data focusing on university students. This holds in particular for the Italian situation. Another reason is linked to the fact that one of the variables on which we would like to focus our attention is the diffusion and the profiles of use of SNS such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter. As it is well known, and as many statistics available on the Net seem to confirm, on average the use of this type of sites is more diffused among people from 18 to 25 years old. Furthermore, we also wanted to confront rates of usages of "traditional" and "new" media, and once again university students seem to provide the more interesting field of research to study this type of topics. The methodology of our research was based on a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches. A survey research was done, on a sample of undergraduate students of the University of Milan-Bicocca, based on a questionnaire that was 87