The amount of time people spend engaged in all forms of media daily has risen from 11 hours, 39 minutes in 2012 to 11 hours, 52 minutes in 2013, according to eMarketer. "It's clear that time spent with media is still increasing as a result of multitasking," said Clark Fredricksen, vice president of eMarketer. [mediapost.com, 8/1/13 stats]
About 6 million children in the United States—or about one out of every 10—have reportedly been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Increasingly, experts wonder whether the mobile devices we tote around might have something to do with that number. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, ADHD numbers began to surge just as smartphones hit the market. And because children engage with screen-based activity so much differently than they do with real-life pursuits, it cuts down on their ability to focus. [time.com, 7/8/13 stats, c&e]
Andrew Smiler, a developmental psychologist, says that far too many of the guiding factors in children's lives, including pop culture, are leading them in negative directions. In his book Challenging Casanova, a look at studies of modern masculinity, sex and relationships, he cites as an example the TV show Two and a Half Men. "The jerk gets all the laugh lines," he says. "The nice guy always looks like a sap." [nbcnews.com, 8/15/13]
"Back then, it was hilariously taboo to see a little girl spout arias of profanity. Now, she's just another teenager swearing. Like the rest of the film, what was once shocking now just elicits a shrug."
—Entertainment Weekly movie critic Chris Nashawaty, comparing the original (2010 movie) Kick-A‑‑ with the sequel, Kick-A‑‑ 2, which arrived in theaters on Friday [ew.com, 8/16/13]
"You can't put a ban on it. I mean, kids under age are still drinking. It just makes it that much more powerful. It's freedom. You should be free to watch it whenever you want."
—actress Amanda Seyfried, criticizing the U.K.'s forthcoming changes in availability of online porn, which, according to cnbc.com, involves service providers "automatically block[ing] access to porn sites for both new and existing connections, unless users specifically request that the filters be disabled." (Seyfried's latest movie is Lovelace, an indie biopic about Linda Lovelace, infamous for her role in 1972's pornographic pic Deep Throat.) [huffingtonpost.com, 8/13/13; cnbc.com, 7/24/13]
E.L. James now tops Forbes' list of top-earning writers, having raked in $95 million on the back of her bondage-themed Fifty Shades of Grey book. Trailing her are the prolific James Patterson ($91 million), Hunger Games scribe Suzanne Collins ($55 million), news commentator Bill O'Reilly ($28 million) and the "not really about romance" novelist Danielle Steel ($26 million). [forbes.com, 8/12/13; cbsnews.com, 9/21/2010 stats]
A new study comparing college students from two groups, the first from 1988 to 1996, the second from 2002 to 2010, found that today's collegians may actually be having slightly less sex with slightly fewer partners than in the late '80s and '90s. But the emphasis is on slight: Among the 1988-96 group, 65.2% of respondents reported having sex weekly, compared to 59.3% in the 2000s. As for number of partners, 31.9% of the earlier group reported having more than one sexual partner in the previous year, compared to 31.6% several years later.
Study co-author Martin Monto, a sociology professor at the University of Portland, commented that the news media sometimes depict today's college campus as being "a more sexualized environment [where] undergraduates are having more sex than in the past." But he says of such perceptions, "We were surprised to find this is not the case." Still, evaluating the study's data, Slate's Hanna Rosin observes that there is one significant thing that's changed that isn't measured by frequency of sex or number of partners alone: "What has changed is how they choose partners. They are more likely now to have sex with a 'casual date' or a 'pickup' or a 'friend.' … Maybe it means that people don't take sex as seriously as they used to. Maybe it means women are less afraid of it than they used to be. Maybe it means that young people have learned to incorporate sex into their definition of friendship. Maybe it means sex isn't so loaded, and doesn't put you on a path to marriage or a real relationship anymore." [nydailynews.com, 8/14/13; slate.com, 8/15/13 stats]
The game Saints Row IV, which arrives in U.S. stores tomorrow bearing an M rating, has been banned in Australia because of its sexualized violence and disturbing use of drugs. It's the first game outright barred since the country instituted an adults-only "R18+" rating earlier this year, which means the content was deemed incompatible with even that adult label. [foxnews.com, 6/25/13; gamespot.com, 7/29/13]
"I was kind of joking, but kind of not joking about M.J. [Peter Parker's longtime girlfriend in The Amazing Spider-Man stories]. Why can't we discover that Peter is exploring his sexuality? It's hardly even groundbreaking! … So why can't he be gay? Why can't he be into boys?"
—Andrew Garfield, who will once again play Spidey in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. [ew.com, 7/19/13]
Parents, apparently, will name their kids after anyone. Anyone! Even characters from George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones. The U.K.'s Office of National Statistics has just released its list of baby names for newborns in England and Wales, and among them are littered the likes of Tyrion, Theon, Bran, Ned, Sansa, Arya and Catelyn. [slate.com, 8/12/13 c&e]
"My 9-year-old daughter was starving herself to death. And somehow, God forgive me, I didn't notice until it was almost too late. We were busy running from soccer to swim lessons to play dates. But that's no excuse. The mere idea of a fourth-grader becoming anorexic was so foreign, so wild and so far-fetched, that it never crossed my mind. My daughter had always been a picky eater and small for her age—less than six pounds at birth. She didn't like to eat much, and I didn't worry about it. … [But] When the scale showed she was only 50 pounds—seven pounds less than she'd been during a visit only a few months before—her pediatrician referred us to a children's hospital. There, they diagnosed her as malnourished and suffering from an eating disorder. My husband and I were stunned—and a little suspicious. She was only in fourth grade, for crying out loud. Didn't this only happen to teenage girls? But the American Academy of Pediatrics says the prevalence of eating disorders in children and teens is increasing. Although it's still not a large number, the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness says 10% of those suffering from an eating disorder are 10 or younger. (And boys aren't immune. Up to 15% of those suffering an eating disorder are male.) Our doctor has treated a girl as young as 7."
—Kristi Belcamino, from her salon.com article, "My Anorexic 9-Year-Old" [salon.com, 8/6/13]