The role of the internet in shaping young adults’ attitude, travel choices, and sustainable lifestyles: a longitudinal perspective

Publication type

Conference Paper


Guoqiang Wu, Jinhyun Hong and Piyushimita Vonu Thakuriah

Publication date


Young people’s mobility behavior and its association with ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) usage have been massively researched. Few studies, however, have considered the impacts of past ICT usage on young people’s current travel patterns. This study contributes a novel analysis by exploring the effects of past habits of Internet usage in adolescence on young adults’ sustainable travel choices, with consideration of the intermediary effects caused by their environmental attitude. Pro-environmental behavior is also modeled to assess the overall sustainability of their lifestyles. Based on the 2004 British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and the Understanding Society survey (Wave 4, 2012/14), structural equation modeling (SEM) was applied to examine the complex interrelationships among young adults’ Internet usage (past and current), travel choices, environmental attitude and behavior. The findings reveal that young adults with high-frequent Internet use tend to have more sustainable travel patterns (e.g. less car use and more use of public transport) and a more positive attitude to the environment, and behave in a more environmentally friendly way. Such Internet-induced effects on travel choices and pro-environmental behavior are even more pronounced for the experienced heavy users – i.e. those who keep the heavy Internet use habit formed in their early years. Their environmental attitude, which is profoundly shaped by their long-term exposure to the Internet, indirectly and greatly contributes to the effect of the Internet as a mediator on their choices and behavior.


Environmental Sociology, Information And Communication Technologies, Psychology, Young People, Social Attitudes, Travel and Social Behaviour



Not held in Hilary Doughty Research Library - bibliographic reference only

Related Publications

  1. Assessing the relationships between young adults’ travel and use of the internet over time