Fighting with your kids over how much screen time they're soaking up? You're in the minority. A nationwide survey conducted by Northwestern University found that in 80% of homes, children's media use is not a source of conflict, and 55% of parents are "not too concerned" or "not at all concerned" about it. The finding "reveals a generational shift in parental attitudes about technology's role in young children's lives," said Ellen Wartella, a researcher from Northwestern. "Today's parents grew up with technology as a central part of their lives, so they think about it differently than earlier generations of parents. Instead of a battle with kids on one side and parents on the other, the use of media and technology has become a family affair." [usatoday.com, 6/4/13 stats]
Mashable.com has published a chart full of statistics and quotes from various sources documenting and synthesizing some of what scientists have discovered about the ways the Internet seems to be shaping our minds. During an average day, most people now spend about 8.5 hours engaged with screens and only 20 minutes reading the printed page. And in just a dozen years, between 2000 and 2012, the average American's attention span (say, in a conversation) fell from 12 seconds to eight. For those who are considered Internet addicts, the brain areas responsible for speech, memory, motor control and the senses have decreased by 10% to 20%. Similarly, brain scans of heavy Internet users showed "fundamentally altered prefrontal cortexes," while brain scans of Web newbies using the medium just five hours in a week also demonstrated evidence of the brain beginning to reconfigure itself. And Facebook users with "significantly more" Facebook friends than the average of 229 tend to have bigger orbital prefrontal cortexes, the area of the brain responsible for social behavior and emotion. [mashable.com, 11/3/12 stats, c&e]
On Device Research reports that companies around the world have denied 10% of would-be young employees (ages 16 to 34) a job because of something they posted on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. [news.cnet.com, 5/29/13 stats, c&e]
More people who identify themselves as practicing Christians have read 50 Shades of Grey than The Hobbit, according to a new study by the Barna Group. For the poll, researchers looked at books that had some sort of entertainment tie-in—either books that had already spawned a film or television show, or were about to. According to Barna's data, Life of Pi was the most popular such book among Christians, with 37% having read it. That was followed by Twilight (22%) and The Hunger Games (21%). Grey came in fourth, with 19% of Christians having read it, followed by Game of Thrones (18%). Only 16% of respondents said they had read The Hobbit.
Meanwhile, the Association of American Publishers indicates that literature aimed at young adults is booming among all readers. In 2012, sales for YA and children's books rose 13.1%. If you include e-book sales, the genre saw an incredible 117% jump. Nearly 20% of adults between the ages of 35 and 44 buy YA books more often than titles in any other genre.
There's another hot sector in the publishing world right now: old tomes. While some believe that the digital age is killing off the printed book, many are pointing to the Internet as the fuel igniting the high-dollar sales of rare and ancient books. A recent example: Seven volumes from George Washington's personal library recently sold for $1.2 million. [christianitytoday.com, 6/4/13; kansascity.com, 5/18/13; latimes.com, 6/5/13 stats]
"Miley Cyrus has a new song called 'We Can't Stop,' an ode to overindulgence, sleepless sleepovers, dancing, MDMA, big butts, bathroom lines, kissing, red plastic cups and sweaty bodies. The song, which seems as if it were written by a ninth-grader imagining her rebellious college sister's lifestyle, celebrates celebration. It's Cyrus' first single in three years, and in that time the former Hannah Montana has grown from a teen star and potential train-wreck into a self-aware 20-year-old celebrity and occasional musician whose early life as a Disney star seems a distant memory. [The song is] a monosyllabic mess seemingly designed for use during sorority parties, strip club dances and bedroom tantrums."
—Los Angeles Times music critic Randall Roberts [latimes.com, 6/5/13]
Teens who smoke cigarettes are far more likely—23 times more likely, in fact—to use marijuana, according to a study from Seattle Children's Research Institute and the University of Michigan. And those who smoked both tobacco and marijuana were likely to smoke more than those who limited their smoking habit to cigarettes. [yahoo.com, 5/8/13 stats, c&e]
Girls are twice as likely to experience online bullying as boys, 22% to 11%, respectively, according to recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. That's important information since the same study shows that teens bullied online are more than three times as likely to engage in suicide attempts that require treatment than peers who aren't. Among all teens, 1.5% who had not experienced any bullying attempted suicide that required treatment. Among those bullied at school, the rate rose to 2.3%, while 5.4% of those who were cyberbullied attempted suicide. The highest suicide attempt rate, 6%, was among those who were picked on both at school and online. [clinicalpsychiatrynews.com, 5/21/13 stats, c&e]
Hollywood moguls would likely pay a lot of money for an app that could tell them ahead of time how much their movies are likely to make before they hit theaters. Well Google has now released a study correlating online searches made for movie trailers with actual box office returns. The stated result? "Trailer-related search trends four weeks out from a movie release provide strong predictive power for opening weekend box office revenue. Trailer search volume on Google coupled with both the franchise status of the movie and seasonality can predict opening weekend box office revenue with 94% accuracy." [salon.com, 6/6/13 stats, c&e]
Blurred and pixelated nudity is increasing on broadcast television, even in programs that are rated TV-PG. Specifically, a new analysis of primetime network programming by the Parents Television Council found that 16 shows contained blurred or pixelated nudity in the first four months of 2013, compared to 22 in the entire 2011-12 television season. Moreover, 70% of these programs received a lenient TV-PG rating. Said PTC president Tim Winter, "If this kind of nudity continues to increase—as we believe it will—and the FCC's proposal to essentially stop enforcing the broadcast indecency law goes into effect, then it's certain that the networks will continue to push the limits of decency even further." [parentstv.org, 6/4/13 stats]
"It was a really disturbing day. I left the set and went straight to the airport and got on a plane because I didn't want to be there anymore. I was a crazy man on the flight crying all the way to London [from Ireland]."
—Game of Thrones actor Richard Madden, on filming the HBO program's shocking and graphic episode "Red Wedding," which he describes as, "Robb Stark with his dead queen in his arms and a stomach ripped open and blood pumping out of that" [nydailynews.com, 6/3/13]