The Impact of Multiplex Media on Generational Engagement and Sociocultural Dynamics


The Impact of Multiplex Media on Generational Engagement and Sociocultural Dynamics


This article explores the pervasive influence of contemporary media channels—such as newspapers, television, smartphones, and more—on generational engagement in the digital age. The discussion delves into the emergence of the « screen generation » and how various age groups interact with and are shaped by media. It examines the sociocultural and ethical implications of these interactions, including both the positive aspects of citizen engagement and the negative consequences like addiction and social isolation. The article also highlights the role of creative industries (CreICT) in fostering innovative engagement and transcultural communication, using examples from different geopolitical contexts to illustrate the diverse impacts of media usage. Through a comprehensive analysis, it aims to understand the dynamics of media-driven engagement and its effects on societal structures and individual behaviors.


Time(s) – Engagement/Commitment –   Generational Engagement –  News stories – Risks & Preconizations


Newspapers, radio, television, telephone, video games, computers, smartphones… Many multiplex contemporary media channels engage progressively the reader, the listener, the audience, the player, the consumer; in short, the lambda citizen. Via this plurality of channels, generations who grew up with, commonly live together with digital screens: cash dispensers, GPS, checkout counter screens, shop window displays, and many other forms of ordering screens from fast food to cannabis distributors… The scope of screen usage depends on the countries, their legislation, their IT context, their consumer expectations, freedom of expression or media censorship. The scope of screens also allows a comparison between different nation’s environments that can lead to citizen engagement for international or local causes. Therefore, to understand the impacts of commitments through innovative ICT tools, we will first focus on the social relations between the different generations. In addition, we will focus on the algorithms and data emerging from these users: the use of data applied by different media that illustrates the process of sharing common awareness and ethics for engagement. However, these engagement practices could lead to non-expected pathos and prejudices such as addiction, isolation, exclusion, ruined hopes… That is the reason why, we will also focus our attention on the risks for a mediatized youth evolving in difficult societal atmosphere, with illustrations of artistic media coverage and news stories.

Which screens for which generation?

When Occidental Baby Boomers in the fifties evolved within an industrial and consumption-oriented cultural context, the so-called ‘screen generation’ emerged around the world in a creative contextual technological trend movement. Each screen, each media becoming every day more powerful, being more interactive, forms part of the innovative world of users who grew up with them. Through screens, citizen engagement in societies became more visible, not only in the digital sphere, but also in the mediatic sphere. However, socially speaking, generations are difficult to define. Nowadays youth can start earlier or later, can finish earlier, later depending on the society, on times of peace, or times of war. For Tom Di Prete, Professor of sociology at Columbia University, interviewed by the political science review The Atlantic (2014): “History isn’t always so punctuated.” Obviously, ‘the [generations] boundaries end up getting drawn to some extent by the media (…) and the extent to which people accept them or not varies by the generation.” Di Prete explained that there was a good sociological reason for identifying the Baby Boomers as a discrete generation with ”specific characteristics”, within an observable timeframe, with societal changes after World War II. These changes disrupted family patterns, and the generation, for academic purposes, was over. In the United States, the Census Bureau[1] does not define generations nowadays – but the Baby Boomers year bracket from 1946 to 1964 does. This Baby Boomers generation compares to the screen generation – also called ”Y” for the oldest (born between 1980 and 2000), the generation known to pay consequences of the Baby Boomers’s one. In addition, the generation known as “Z” (2001-), ”Born Social” ”Millennial”, ”Touch Screen Generation” or even “Digital Natives” – cross multiplex channels in an atmosphere of constant mass interconnected media[2].

To understand the impacts of engagement via digital mass media, we first start with explaining the genesis of the expression “creative industries”. The political and theoretical origins come from a British notion. Early writers such as David Hesmondhalgh, researcher at the Media Industries Research Centre at the University of Leeds and John Howkins, author of The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas (2002), define the creative industries as a whole, as economic activities related to the production or exploitation of knowledge and information. Depending on the IT environment, new businesses are possible. Furthermore, if funds are not available, projects could also born through solicitations of financial aid as crowdfunding for example[3]. Therefore, we will use generally in this article the expression “CreICT” to describe creative ICT practices used by “screen generations”. We will address CreICT through different media with a ”glocal” approach. The term “creativity” refers to the formulation of new ideas and the application of these ideas to the production of works of art and cultural products, functional creations, scientific inventions and innovative technology.

To think and see the emergence of CreICT according to a territorial framework, it is essential to approach the youth, the actors of the creation and their “products”. It is also useful to analyze the economic, political, legal and particular social contexts according to a socio-geographical approach. In United States, GAFAM[4] leads the digital market, just as their technologically advanced Chinese equivalents, BATX do in China[5]. In Europe, the market is regulated by the GPRD[6]. This does not mean that reception in northern or southern regions is equivalent to developing countries that are less urbanized or less connected. The quality of connection and reception, i.e. the Internet penetration is internationally, different. While illustrating we assess the impact of committed arts considering their area of reception; the financial, political investments and their consequences. Therefore, it is important to notice the context in which the communication emerges, the device that facilitates and encourages the CreICT generation skills in mastering and exchanging the online data. Commitment is manifested not only when one wants to do something, to meet, to act… but also when one wants to listen, to share, to follow, to participate; in a word: to contribute.

Looking at the commitment of youngest generations, we propose to discover how their art for a service of a certain kind can be negative or positive. It is a way for some people to be part of the civic life. In a world where transcultural communication is important, being vigilant about the differences during interactions is vital, we feel a need for the understanding of how youths from different cultures communicate and perceive the world around them.

Times of information and communication’s algorithms

Internet communication obeys the pattern of the “sender-message-recipient” paradigm but involves more channels and targets at higher frequency. This pattern seems amplified, when viewed through the prism of the technical communication model also known as “mother of all models”. The US mathematicians Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver introduced this model in the book The Mathematical Theory of Communication (1948). These scientists known among the pioneers of the Information and Communication Sciences invite us to discover how mathematics can be the roots of communication schemes. The model identifies several components of  information : source, message, transmitter, signal, channel, noise, receiver, information destination, probability of error, encoding, decoding, information rate, channel capacity, etc. One important element of mathematics for nowadays channels is much more present in this mother of all communication models: algorithms. Algorismus, having its latin roots from the 9th century, with the name of the Persian mathematician Al-Khworizmi designs the exact steps to reach a goal, with a procedure and with data. The times of libraries seem long gone: to check among books for one piece of information, to pre-book and wait for delivery of a review already borrowed… The algorithms of the search engine Google allow reaching the same goal within seconds. Amazon allows to order and receive the expected information instantaneously. Entertainment services as the US Netflix or the Swedish Spotify deliver the desired film, the desired music also in seconds. Dating apps likewise. Chance does not exist on sites like Tinder in the USA or even AdopteUnMec in France. Algorithms define a “desirability” score according to the photos, the centers of interest …It can be appreciated but also feared as Facebook for example, to influence political elections with scandals linked to algorithms, as in the Cambridge Analytica case. This list is not exhaustive, but these successful products using algorithms are used in most Western countries and more and more internationally. Indeed, users contribute “innocently” to the creation of an unequalled database in history; feeding it profusely with pictures, videos, texts, that allows powerful algorithms and a powerful artificial intelligence. One word: a “datanami” (database tsunami). In 2019, he most downloaded application in the world seems to be strongly feeded by “invisible kids” which are nevertheless very “visible” using it: TikTok[7], allows to create videos with #hashtags. The algorithms are numerous for finding all kind of usual required contents, the sound that we would like to hear, the city you would like to visit, tutorials useful to know, to cook, to draw, to use make-up, to do sport, how to dance[8]… Politics caricature are also created and shared on TikTok. For example, in 2019 for the cause “gilets jaunes” which started in France to denounce precarity, or even caricatures of protagonists accused of corruption in the Algerian government. All kind of contributors are present: this media first seen as a funny application for teenagers is growing up in terms of public relevance. Adults and senior generations are also involved, whether themselves or via different actors, as friends, family, colleagues – depending on the private or public contexts. The hashtags #grandpa, #grandma and #grandparents show, from a grandchild, a friend, a colleague’s perception, the participation of active seniors within choreographies, movie parodies, sports, drama …

A multiplicity of social media share information from a lonely channel, which at the same time, can be fruitful profitable for good causes and then, to the contrary disadvantageous, deceptive propaganda or disinformation. Actually, transcultural communication has become strategically important to companies due to the growth of global business, technology and the Internet. This type of communication involves an understanding of how people from different cultures speak, communicate and perceive the world around them, in a funny, sarcastic, ironic, burlesque … and a multiplicity of other ways.

Media ethics and awareness for engagement

CreICTs cover a multitude of fields in constant evolution. In addition to a growing role in the economy, they also have an impact on society and the “screen generation”. They allow the sharing of values and opinions, to convey a “glocal message”. The sentence “Think global, act local” has been used since in various contexts, including citizen engagement, environment, education, mathematics, business, etc. To illustrate glocalization impacts, let’s begin with a first example for Africa: in a German Arte documentary broadcasted in 2018 called “L’Afrique, terre promise du numerique”[9]. Filmed in Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana, three English-speaking countries where Wi-Fi is often affordable, the report shows an African youth bubbling with ideas, concerned about their environment and ready to roll up sleeves and act. In clusters, fab labs, incubators or innovation centers, the digital generations invent and develop concepts, initiatives that match the needs of local populations or considering their needs. In arid zones, for example, populations can simply buy water in bottles sending a SMS. Mobile banking is an asset for countries where solutions need to be adapted for heterogenous uses. Other African states such as Algeria propose to the population and to travelers to discover the country through its heritage, history, and contemporary art via digital media tools. A first cluster in 2015 started to dedicate itself toward digital economy with twenty public and private companies participating. Wide ranges of products were on display for exchange: drinks, textile carpets, jewels, traditional crafts and art with the “Do it yourself!” aim of thinking globally by acting locally. In 2019, Algeria Digital Cluster, a group of ICT leaders commenced to work towards the continuous integration of new forms of trade, technologies to apply digital standards required by the Algerian regulator in order to optimize these glocal actions for the whole population. Therefore, the country’s socio-economic and the education environment plays a decisive role to promote new these actors. CreICT generations use media tools for mass distribution more than ever and continuously need to learn the opportunities these tools offer. Creativity ethics and awareness refers to the imagination and the ability to generate ideas and new ways of interpreting the world, through text, sound and image. To illustrate these innovative ways of interpretations, everyone can compose music and create audiovisual products even with a single smart phone. International citizens can show involvement, which on its turn creates jobs and engagement in launching new products and tools. What we also see appearing in recent years are CreICT videographers called “influencers” exposing their ideas, their opinions about social issues and other topics. Thanks to video platforms7, citizens are popularizing complex phenomena that were unknown to most people in just about every field.

If the commitment of a young “leader”, with whom we once identified, no longer corresponds to what we expect, then each person can quickly decide to change regards on this cause which is particularly dear to him. It can also be more lively and social to involve everyone, each generation, to chillout, to denounce. Multiplex channels allow more and more influencers to choose the media through which the important message will be transmitted. The youth can quickly be involved in different ways by creating their audiovisual support; to promote a cause they will engage in posting content on video hosting platforms as YouTube to have an audience and hope to influence others for this cause. For example, global warning, “zero waste” or other environmental protection topics reach a larger audience than never before, thanks to CreICT. A glocal example regarding these topics: protest movements started for climate change awareness and political action. One of the principal initiative takers has been a 16-year-old Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. Avoiding carbon dioxide emissions, she travels by train as seen in a picture relayed on the internet. While watching the picture in detail one might see her eating industrial food in plastic packaging. Certain individuals or lobbies, to denounce emerging journalistic topics as vegan food use these images, as being inconsistent[10]. These international denunciations lead a negative comment and without too many reflections change the appreciation of the movement forgetting all the beneficial actions these movements have. On the other hand, it might just illustrate how difficult it is for somebody travelling to dine in this word where most products are produced without ecological care.

If we compare two press releases about youth engagement for a better social situation, we see a huge difference in two industrial countries, one in a Europa more globally advanced, and the other in Africa more locally evolving: France and Algeria. Gilets jaunes in France every Saturday or Friday protest against oligarchy in Algeria. On the French side, the newspaper La Croix wonders “Comment les jeunes vivent l’engagement”[11]. The journalist Denis Peiron studied the perception of the 15-25 years old regarding a train line between Marseille and Hyères. The article makes us wonder: if French young citizens could be disillusioned, disinvested, devoid of ideals, could they also be inapt to mobilization? The idea that young people would be too stuck in their difficulties of social and professional integration to devote a little of their time to others or to a cause is a bit easy. The French youth look therefore disillusioned. Nevertheless, if a part of the youth is not present in the street, we can find their opinions, their opposition on line. On the Algerian side, we see an image of a fragile but confident youth worried about their future. For the newspaper Le Courrier d’Algerie, the title is clear about commitment: “Engagée pour construire l’Algérie de demain: la jeunesse algérienne a soif de changement”. Even though Internet is useful for protest, the impact is not the same in a country where protests usually are not so visible. The journalist Mohamed Amrouni describes peaceful parades to reaffirm youth commitment to support and carry the voice of the people, calling for a change in the political system in place, for a new Algeria with respect for rights, freedom and dignity. Recognizable, dressed in industrial neon-yellow safety vests or covered with the white, green and red Algerian flag.

Screens impact all kind of media, to understand societal crises, with hopes to effect changes. These images affect other youths in many countries, internationally, in a similar situation protesting for a better life[12]. They benefited from the use of digital platforms, and this is innovative for commitment messages. It also became the national anthem, attachment to the national proofs – that protest images on social media will highlight. Citizen commitment is also a rather vague expression that will have to be defined. The first thing to observe is that to get involved in the affairs of his country, his region, his city or more generally of his community does not necessarily means charity engagements. However, we can consider as citizen engagement criticizing a notion, an idea of ​​our community. Citizen commitment can manifest itself in different forms with CreICT, in the digital culture. It can transmit a message and be a carrier of commitment.

Through CreICT, the youngest generation can henceforth show and share its creative side with others, denouncing injustices. Celebrities can help to mobilize many people and quickly create lobbies around the world thanks traditional and social media, constantly evolving. The 35 years old African-American artist Donald Glover firstly known as one of the actor of Community[13] before becoming musically known as Childish Gambino. Since his teenage time, Donald Glover denounced the stereotypes and prejudices about the US black community. During his studies, he wrote a drama – Black Peter Pan – in which children refuse to go to Neverland because they are afraid of Peter Pan with black skin[14]. In 2018, he launched the international success This is America[15]. In the clip, segregation is denounced through shocking images referring to several sad and dramatic news story in United States, where American with tanned skin are targeted, as for example the Charleston Church shooting in 2015. These shocking images are embedded in and can be forgotten in between many scenes of happiness, choreographies, sports, musicians. Whereas scenes of injustice and violence occur, people use smartphones to film images for a modern “societe du spectacle” (Debord, 1967), an entertainment society. At the end of the day, segregation in USA seems to be covered by “various news stories that make diversion”17 as stated by the French media sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1996). Many artists from several countries took music as an instrument to denounce with their texts various forms of discrimination in their countries, also through different dramatic news stories (Nigeria, Iran, France, Africa, Germany, Martinique, Afghanistan…). The video also lead to promotion (Malaysia for example to discover as an almost unknown country, or introducing products as the comic book and film Wakanda). Many examples illustrate the impact of this creICT with many remixed formats: house music, video games, video to learn the choregraphy, people reactions to the clip etc… This is America, a political phenomenon, denounces the violence and injustice by using punctum (Barthes, 1980), details, breaking down important symbols, in the pic to catch the attention of the audience. For example, the singer is dressed in the same way as Jim Crow: Gambino does dance moves that are similar to the moves of the Jim Crow caricatures. During the 19th century, Jim Crow referred to a ‘minstrel’ or ‘blackface’ character[16], who was a physically disabled African-American slave, a “nigga”. If these stereotypes were common at this time, it seems that it is still difficult to get rid of them nowadays (Alexander, 2010). To denounce this repetition in history, Childish Gambino used the African-American vernacular and dance to create a mentally-inept caricature of a Black man.

Listening to music with the eyes becomes a new form of CreICT. Rebecca Manzoni, producer, offers a brief history of the music video on the radio program France Inter by comparing the clip This is America to Thriller[17]. If the clip is primarily a promotional tool, Michael Jackson would raise it to the rank of artwork. In 1983, the clip of “Thriller”, which is no longer just a clip but a short film of more than 13 minutes, was honored by inclusion in the National Film Registry. For Rebecca Manyoni, on the Internet, and YouTube on the front line, video has become the dominant mode of consumption in listening to music. The Net devotes listening with images. Commitment, therefore, seems to be better “heard” with images.

With less glocal impacts but with high local impacts, the Algerian Lotfi singer of Double Kanon. with the video clip “Taleb Djamii” (University student) also contributes to a wide diffusion of commitment images. It counts around one million views on Youtube. It takes place in Laghouat University, with students of the faculty of architecture and of the faculty of dental medicine. It deals with the lack of educational and material resources in Algerian universities. The lack of management and the laxness of the leaders, the oppression suffered by the students, each time they claim their basic rights to education are denounced. Students display claims on their posters in different languages, mainly Arabic, Darija, English and French[18]. There is also a time freeze effect[19] where everyone stops moving. With this effect and through this CreICT video clip, students want to decry their situation blocked by the stagnancy of the ministry of higher education and research. In that sense, the popularity of this format reinforces the will to participate in societal denunciations through art.


The evolution of media technologies has profoundly reshaped generational interactions and engagement. The proliferation of digital screens and multiplex media channels has fostered both enhanced connectivity and significant sociocultural shifts. While these advancements have enabled greater civic participation and creative expression, they have also introduced risks such as addiction and social isolation. Understanding the complex dynamics between media, generational behavior, and societal impacts is crucial. By examining these interactions through a global lens, we can better appreciate the potential and challenges of media-driven engagement in contemporary society.

Linda Saadaoui – PhD Information and Communications Sciences

Nasreddine Bouziane – PhD Information and Communication Sciences


[1] The US government Census Bureau’s mission is to serve as the nation’s leading provider of quality data about its people and economy.

[2] Actually, “digital natives” from an early age this generation borned or brought up during the time of digital technology is evolving differently from those called “digital immigrants”: users that choose/had to evolve with different tools and results (Prensky, 2001).

[3] With participatory finance, crowdfunding platforms, each and one can feel useful to a cause as he can. The contributor will receive, in exchange for what he has invested in the cause, gifts in proportion to the sum invested. In exchange of good procedures, if we take the example of the music, the places of concerts, the dedications or the placement of the musical product on different goodies (tee shirts, mugs, pen or other more modern gadgets.

[4] GAFAM is the acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft – the five major US that dominate the digital market. GAFAM are also called the Big Five, or “The Five”.

[5] BATX is the acronym for Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Xiaomi, giants of the WEB dominating the chinese digital maket.

[6] GDPR is an acronym for “General Data Protection Regulation” (GDPR). This is a Regulation of the European Parliament on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data.

[7] Initialy, the application changed with a new logo and renamed: TikTok. The app was acquired by Chinese company ByteDance in November 2017, which absorbed into its own TikTok app. Existing users have been migrated over to their new TikTok accounts, which have been updated with a new interface but still retains the core feature of both apps: in average, short-form videos up to 15 seconds.

[8] To dance even with fingers as the famous TikTok #fingerdance that teachs dexterity by CreICT.

[9] L’Afrique, terre promise du numerique by Stefanie Fleischmann and Elke Sasse (All., 2018, 55 min.)

[10] On the seach engine Google, the emerging word “vegan” appears in 735.000.000 results. Consulted on Google from Luxembourg the 05/15/2019.

[11] Denis Peiron, La Croix, “Comment les jeunes vivent l’engagement”, 28/02/2019.

[12] Cf. „Des Pays-Bas au Liban, les gilets jaunes s’exportent à l’étranger”, LCI, 14 december 2018.

[13] Community is an American sitcom created by Dan Harmon and broadcast between 2009 and 2014. The series follows the daily life of a group of students from a community college in Colorado, a community college being an American higher education institution often considered inferior to the university and which therefore hosts many students in difficulty as well as adults wishing to return to school. Students and teachers are represented with cliches. The series has had great success, precisely because it is about laughing cliches.

[14] Tad Friend, « Donald Glover Can’t Save You », The New Yorker,‎ 26 février 2018.

[15] The clip registers nearly 550 000 000 of views, in May 2019. The first week of the diffusion, it was already more than 300 000 000.

[16] Jim Crow is the name of a song and dance of 1828 performed by Thomas D. Rice, a white American comedian. Actually, this white man, came up with the character by using ‘black face’ with make up and big lips red.

[17] Rebecca Manzoni “De Michael Jackson hier à Childish Gambino aujourd’hui, on n’écoute que des clips !”, 28 may 2018.

[18] “University student, in my country I am exhausted”; “Sterile training studies at risk”; “Save the dental medicine”; “ Let’s go looking for a place to do the course!”; “Student in strike, student stripping”; “come back next time; faculty down”; “huge lack of equipment and materials”; “the architecture is angry”; “courses, exams, faculties, join us, legitimate claims”; “handout courses”; “sorry for this sad reality”.

[19] Video freeze time effects are also known as frozen moment, the big freeze, flow motion time slice or dead time. It is a visual effect or visual impression of detaching the time and space of a camera from those of its visible subject.

[20] After being the subject of many experiments in China as in Hangzhou, in Zhejang province, other countries are planning to adopt the credit social system.


Alexander M., 2010, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, The new press.

Barthes R., 1980, La chambre claire. Note sur la photographie, Paris, Gallimard.

Bourdieu P., 1996. Sur la télévision, 1996, Liber-raisons d’agir.

Bump P. « Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts », The Atlantic, 25/03/2014.

Debord G., 1967, Societe du spectacle, ed. Buchet/Chastel.

Florida R. (2008). Who’s your city? How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life, New York, Basic Books.

Foucault M., 1975, Surveiller et punir, Gallimard, 1975.

Hesmondhalgh D., Howkins J., 2002, The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas, Penguin Global.

Hephzibah A., « Never heard of Fomo? You’re so missing out », 17 avril 2011
Przybylski M.,DeHaan, G., « Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out », 2013, p. 1814–1848.

Howkins J., (2002).The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas, London, Penguin Press.

Kellner S., « Is FOMO depriving us of our ability to exist in the present and take pleasure in the here and now? », The independent, 13 january 2013.