Responding To Kaiser's Generation M2 Study

Lots of chatter today around the study, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the finding that young people between the ages of eight and 18 devote just under eight hours a day to media consumption (which actually adds up to more like 11 hours of media content, if you take into account all the “media multitasking”). With hefty numbers like these and the rapid increase from the last time this study was conducted in 2004, it’s easy to spin negative a la USA Today and come up with provocative headlines like “Kids less happy as they’re more plugged into TV, music, Web?”

To the piece’s credit, it does use the question as a launching point for a slightly more nuanced discussion around (surprise) moderation and striking a balance between screens and real life, but with its overall cautionary tone, the repeated catch-all description of “media consumption” and “technology’  might as well be replaced with “junk food.” Overall it just struck me as a skewed way a looking at a much more multifaceted relationship between t(w)eens and media.

What’s missing is the flipside of this type of research. Both with the so-called “happiness/media” connection and its brush off of recent studies like Mediasnacker’s The Web Makes Me Feel and MTV Sticky’s Teen Age Clicks: Understanding Global Youth Culture, which cited music, TV and social networks as generating happiness and alleviating stress, and also with the far-reaching positive potential of new media.

MacArthur has also been funding lots of research about how all of this digital media is impacting learning whether formal or informal. Watching a show and then going to a fan forum and posting about it  or interacting with other viewers during the show online is much different than…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “A wedding trend I’ve noticed recently is guests not dressing formally to the reception/wedding, more come as you are attitude.”—Female, 24, MI

This week, Mattel introduced an American Boy doll, their first male offering in the company’s 31-year history. New doll Logan Everett is part of a pair of singer-songwriters from Nashville who come with music-inspired accessories. The company reports that customers have been asking for a male doll for some time, and Mattel’s continuing strategy to diversify their offerings helped increase sales by 4% last year. (KidscreenNYTimes

Kids in Australia are spending more time online than watching TV. Research firm Roy Morgan reports that in 2016 six-13-year-olds spent an average of 12 hours a week online compared to 10.5 hours spent in front of the TV, the first time internet surpassed TV since the survey began in 2008. Online time has also almost doubled in the last eight years. The firm says, "The idea that TV is boring no matter what is on is just because TV is so static and it might have ads on it." (ABC

The current state of the White House has ignited Gen Z’s interest in politics—according to AwesomenessTV’s CEO, Brian Robbins. He reports that his own children’s newfound fascination with politics sparked by the recent election has inspired him to bring more political content to AwesomenessTV. Because “[a]n audience that really wasn't that interested is now really interested," the company will move away from “fluffy, horrible” entertainment news into political news, which could be in the form of documentaries, or scripted shows. (Business Insider)

Millennials are reporting higher rates of depression than any other generation, creating challenges at work. To avoid the stigma surrounding mental issues, young employees are increasingly resorting to using personal days to recuperate from anxiety, depression, and other afflictions. According to one expert, “this generation is not necessarily more depressed than workers of past generations, but more equipped to recognize it”—however, they fear judgement from their employers. (MarketWatch)  

Is Snap Inc. really a camera company? They say they are, and in their IPO filing the brand wrote, “In the way that the flashing cursor became the starting point for most products on desktop computers, we believe that the camera screen will be the starting point for most products on smartphones.” WeChat’s ability to read QR codes, Pinterest’s new visual search, and Facebook Messengers’ new visual capabilities all point to expanding capabilities of a camera—and the fact that “users’ experience of the world is increasingly mediated through cameras.” (The New Yorker)  

Quote of the Day: “I have a diamond wedding ring but any stone would be beautiful and appreciated.”—Female, 24, MN

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