Does Social Networking Substitute for or Stimulate Teenagers’ Travel? Findings from a Latent Class Model.
The aim of this paper is to investigate and quantify the influence of various social networking (SN) usage styles on adolescents’ travel behavior. For this purpose a latent class model is developed, which incorporates SN usage styles as higher-level individual orientations influencing the number of trips made for social purposes. The latent class model consists of two parts: 1. The class membership model, which links the latent SN usage styles to socio-demographic variables; and 2. the classspecific choice model, which is a Poisson regression and shows the influence of an SN usage style and socio-economic variables on the number of trips made for social purposes. The methodology is tested with data from a survey conducted in Cyprus in 2012 and refers only to adolescents. The survey provides data on 15,693 social trips of 9,735 participants (20% of the total high-school population). The class membership model indicates that there are four latent SN usage styles, while the results of the class-specific model indicate that the rational SN usage style (Class 1) and the SN addiction (Class 3) increases the number of social trips, while the indifference in SN usage (Class 2) and non-SN-users (Class 4) affects negatively the number of social trips. The results of the study provide insights into how SN usage affects Net Generations travel behavior, and especially trip substitution vs complementarity, while the class specific model is rich in interpretation, and serves as a harbinger for policy-makers.