"A research question like ours can only be answered with a long-term study," says Paulina Domdey from the HBI. "Media socialization is a process, and processes can't be measured selectively, but only over a longer period of time." The rapidity with which the media world is changing also requires scientific monitoring over a long period of time. "Consider how quickly the topic of ChatGPT suddenly emerged. To be able to map these changes, we need a long research period and not a snapshot," says Katrin Potzel from the University of Nuremberg.
A long-term study wants to be well prepared. Before starting the survey, the research team recruited a total of 32 families in and around Nuremberg and Hamburg using posters, flyers, and media education programs. For the findings to be representative of the overall population later on, it was important to map various demographic factors: rural as well as urban families, different socio-economic backgrounds, patchwork families, families with single parents, etc. The research team also considered the different demographics of the families.
Keeping these 32 families engaged over the research period of several years is one of the challenges of a long-term study. "Panel care" is what Katrin Potzel and Paulina Domdey call this part of their work. "We have to keep drawing attention to the fact that we exist. Because it would be very inconvenient if we lost our research participants over the years because, for example, they forgot to inform us after moving to a new place or changing their phone number," says Katrin Potzel. "So, we always try to draw attention to ourselves, for example with thank-you cards on Christmas or other occasions."
What is also challenging about long-term studies, she says, is the sheer volume of data that needs to be processed and stored. Documentation is another important aspect that goes hand in hand with this. If there is a change of staff in the research team - which is not unlikely in a long-term project - it must be ensured that new employees are able to familiarize themselves with the project and the data volumes as quickly as possible so that the research can continue seamlessly.
Projekt Connected Kids (ConKids)
Book: Sozialisation in einer sich wandelnden Medienumgebung [Socialization in a Changing Media Environment]