Does information and communication technology complement or replace social travel among young adults?

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Young adults are becoming less dependent on the car for travel. Increased
use of information and communication technology (ICT) has been
linked to this trend; this link suggests that ICT enables connection without
wheels and thus less travel. This study tested that theory through
a survey of young adults in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Two competing
hypotheses were tested: (a) increased contact through ICT
replaces–reduces in-person travel and (b) increased contact through
ICT complements–increases in-person travel. The survey found that
contact with friends was a high priority for young adults: 81% contacted
friends daily through social media, 74% by phone, and 39% in
person. A multinomial logistic regression tested associations between
frequent in-person contact and several variables. Daily social media and
telephone contact with friends was strongly associated with more frequent
in-person contact. Daily social media use made someone 6.7 times
more likely to have seen friends daily, while daily phone contact made
someone 9.9 times more likely to have seen friends daily. The findings
supported the complement–increase hypothesis (i.e., ICT use complements
in-person contact rather than replaces it). Results are discussed
and future research directions proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76 - 82
Number of pages7
JournalTransportation Research Record
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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