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Comunicar Journal 69: Citizen participation in the digital sphere (Vol. 29 - 2021)

Young people and social networks: Between the democratization of knowledge and digital inequality


Lucy Andrade-Vargas

Margoth Iriarte-Solano

Diana Rivera-Rogel

Deisi Yunga-Godoy


The growing access to the Internet, devices, and social media has revolutionized communication processes and democratized access to information and content creation. However, several researchers have shown that although access to the Internet is readily available, the virtual world is a mirror of the society in which we live where digital inequity exists. Several studies present evidence that social status does not affect the presence of social network users, but it does affect the way it is used and content creation, although it concerns studies that were mostly carried out in European and North American contexts. This research explores the socioeconomic profile of young people concerning the consumption and creation of content, and the virtual world of adolescents related to social inequalities found in the real world. This study followed an exploratory quantitative design by means of a survey that was applied to 2,115 high-school students from high-performing educational institutions in Ecuador. The results highlight three units of analysis: (1) reasons for using the platform (2) time of consumption (3) type of content that young people create. In line with previous studies, it points out how the socioeconomic environment has an effect on how young people use social networks. Similarly, it shows an increase in the democratization of content creation processes.


Social networking sites, YouTube, participation, content, young people, socioeconomic level

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