Virtual leisure activity engagement: The role of childhood technology experience

Activity engagement and travel behavior are dynamic concepts that are inherently complex. Recently, the generational transition from baby boomers as the largest generational cohort in the US to millennials has added a layer of complexity to an understanding of activity engagement and travel behavior. The challenge stems in part from the fact that millennials are “digital natives” or the first generation to generally be exposed to technology during childhood, with implications for adulthood preferences, activity and travel behavior. This does come with a potential benefit for the environment via reduced travel more generally and car travel more specifically. In fact, “Peak car” is one hypothesized manifestation of changes brought about by the generational transition that is gaining importance in the literature. Another, less discussed manifestation pertains to the changes in the balance between virtual and physical activities. In this study, the authors examine the association between millennial-specific factors, such as the childhood experience with technology, and adulthood engagement in virtual rather than physical activities. The authors do so by applying a comprehensive life-stage approach borrowed from a larger study examining the impacts of the generational shift on travel behavior. Results suggest that individuals who were more technologically-engaged during childhood are associated with higher levels of technology engagement and higher virtual than physical leisure activities as adults. Such results provide important insights at the policy level, helping inform efforts aimed at promoting sustainable travel and provide researchers with a comprehensive framework to tackle research questions related to young people’s travel behavior. This will only gain importance as more “digital natives” become transport users.


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01884188
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 31 2023 10:58AM