Car culture experiences major shift


The number of new cars purchased by 18-34 year olds dropped 30% in the last five years, said CNNMoney.com. Shifts in social media and the economy are factors in this cultural change.

When young adults get into cars their ability to be constantly connected is cut off due to driving laws and safety concerns.

“When I got into a vehicle, it represented me going to meet my friends,” said Craig Giffi, automotive practice leader at the consultancy Deloitte. “For them, it cuts them off from their friends.” According to Young Americans ditch the car on CNN.com

Dr. Scott Waalkes, associate professor of international politics, teaches a Gen 460 course about car culture.

Waalkes said trends and statistics show teens are delaying buying cars and getting their licenses. Cars are expensive and driver’s education requires 50 hours of driving experience.

Waalkes said he thinks car sales will bounce back as the economy improves. With social media having become a large part of culture in the past decade, however, it is hard to tell what permanent changes have already happened in young adults’ use of cars.

Although the need to buy a car is decreasing, owning a car provides a significant amount of freedom and can be very symbolic for college students. (Photo by Kaitie Fox)

Dr. Andrew Rudd, associate professor of communication arts, said young adults aren’t necessarily using cars less, but depend more on social media to find their identity.

“Today’s generation derives a great deal of their social identity through social media practices. So it wouldn’t surprise me if there were significant shifts in their lifestyle based on that commitment.” Rudd said.

Rudd said Facebook and Twitter are outlets for car companies to advertise. Young adults use these social media sources every day. This is where social media and car sales can benefit each other.

Social media also plays a role in the decreasing need to buy a car.

Texting and Facebook give teens and young adults a means to communicate with friends without using precious gas or being together in person.

Rachel Dawson, a sophomore early childhood education and intervention specialist major, said the economy really affects college students buying cars and social media only plays a small part.

“I like to see my friends and not just text because you have a more personal relationship when you see them face to face,” Dawson said.

Dawson got her license when she was 16, and was given her sister’s old car for her birthday.

Grace Waickman, a freshman undecided major, also believes that money is a big factor in whether or not a student buys a car on her own. Waickman got her license when she was 16 and shared a car with her sister.  She does not have a car at college.

“I text my friends, but I still like to be able to drive so I can see them personally,” said Waickman.

She doesn’t feel that social media has a strong impact on car sales.

Cars are still an emblem of freedom to many young adults, and life without a car of their own makes them feel less independent.

Although cars are becoming more expensive and part-time jobs are harder to find, students still want cars. The impact of social media on the use of cars is still to be determined.

Sarah Bosler is a contributing editor for The Aviso AVW. 

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1 reply »

  1. I think the reason students are not buying more cars is because decent cars cost thousands of dollars and gas prices are at least 3$ a gallon. Social media can be fun but can’t take you taco bell for a late night steak taco.


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