“A cigarette in the hands of a Hollywood star onscreen is a gun aimed at a 12- or 14-year-old.” —Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas
From anxieties surrounding the impact of Gothic novels in the 18th Century to modern day concerns about internet addiction; mass media trepidations are age old, and ever-present. As such, technologically dystopian societies are a popular theme among many modern television series and films. Often exploring the possibly catastrophic effects of overexposure to mass media and the potential of technological advancements to corrupt humanity.
One such example is Wall-e. Watch below as an ironic disconnection from reality is catalysed by the screens which connect the people to their virtual world as the connection between technology, commercialisation, and obesity is explored.
Similarly, Black Mirror Series 3 Episode 1 Nosedive explores the role of the individual as a “Produser” (A. Bruns, 2008 ) in today’s society. Below, Charlie Brooker explains the correlation between Nosedive’s fatally-digitalised world and today’s society, and its reflection of concerns surrounding the power social media has over many individuals.
Although these contemporary examples align with social anxieties regarding vulnerable media audiences, what exactly are the tangible effects of accessing media through technology?
Fears for the future often reside among concerns about the wellbeing of our younger generations in the midst of a digital age. Whilst surveys conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirm that “the majority (90%) of children aged 5 to 14 years accessed the Internet in the 12 months to April 2012” and this has “steadily increased from 65% in 2006 and 79% in 2009”. The same ABS study concluded that children predominantly access the internet for educational purposes, as shown below. Thus, implying the positive impacts of the media on children, as outlined by the University of Sheffield in this report.
Alternatively, the Pediatric Clinics of North America suggest that the connection between screen time and obesity is clear”. Reporting that a Scottish study concluded that excessive television viewing at age 3 was linked with an escalated risk of obesity at age 7. Although this is alarming, they admit that quantitative research is often contradictory on the topic, highlighting a need for more effective qualitative research in the area. Thus, furthering doubt of the media’s connection to palpable societal issues.
Ultimately, digital media inherently makes a difference in our lives, leading to calls for concern in regards to how the media affects children. However, whilst quantitative research indicates a rising obsession with digital media, qualitative research attempts to define this relationship between media and the individual; but realistically there is little research to justify that the extent and effect of this relationship is not heavily dependant on the individual.
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012, Internet and Mobile Phones 2012, cat. no. 4901.0, viewed 13 March 2017 <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/4901.0~Apr+2012~Main+Features~Internet+and+mobile+phones?OpenDocument>
March, J, Brooks, G, Hughes, J, Ritchie, L, Roberts, S & Wright K, ‘Digital beginnings: Young children’s use of popular culture, media and new technologies’ viewed 13 March 2017 <https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Greg_Brooks/publication/265183910_Digital_beginnings_Young_children’s_use_of_popular_culture_media_and_new_technologies/links/5473599e0cf2d67fc036d3df.pdf>
Netflix US & Canada, Black Mirror | Nosedive Featurette [HD] | Netflix, online video, 12 Oct 2016, Netflix, viewed 13 March 2017 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R32qWdOWrTo&feature=youtu.be>
PassivelySedentary, Human Dystopia, online video, 30 Aug 2011, viewed 13 March 2017 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1BQPV-iCkU&feature=youtu.be>
Strasburger, V, Jordan, A & Donnerstein, E, ‘Children, Adolescents, and the Media:: Health Effects’ Pediatric Clinics of North America, vol.59, no. 3, pp.534-538 <https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Victor_Strasburger/publication/256822872_Children_Adolescents_and_the_Media_Health_Effects/links/5416f0ac0cf2788c4b35f651.pdf>
Turnbull, S, 2017, ‘Media Audiences’ Powerpoint Sildes, BCM110, University of Wollongong, viewed 8 March 2017