Millennials spend 17.8 hours engaged in media daily, some of the time obviously overlapping, according to a new survey by Ipsos Media of 839 young people online. Overall, Web surfing, along with social media activities and smartphone interactions such as texting and chatting take up the biggest chunk of their media time daily, claiming fully 50% of the total. (Integrated into that tally is the fact that 30% of the time is consumed with content created by peers.) Watching television (live and prerecorded) now comes in at 23%, playing computer/video games at 10%, watching movies at 7%, listening to the radio at 7%, and reading print magazine/newspapers at 3%. [mediapost.com, 3/17/14 stats]
Caroline Moss, a writer for Business Insider, says her old high school has almost done away with school dances since she graduated. Why? Because the kids can't be bothered to attend: They're too busy texting. "Kids don't need to go to a dance to interact with each other when they can sit in their bed with their laptop and phone and text them," says the school's assistant principal Lisa Kor. "It's basically like being with that person. You don't have to show up to a dance hoping to see someone anymore. You can literally Snapchat them and see them on Snapchat." The school now sponsors just one dance: prom. [slate.com, 3/11/14]
Three new studies are again correlating violent video games and aggressive thoughts and actions.
Dr. Douglas Gentile heads Iowa State University's Media Research Lab, and his team's latest research indicates that violent video games change how children view violence. The three-year study of more than 3,000 8- to 17-year-olds in Singapore asked participants about both their thoughts and actions as well as analyzing their video game habits. Those who played more violent games had more thoughts and fantasies about violence, and they were more likely to believe that hitting other people was acceptable. The researchers say their results challenge the frequently stated notion that violent games only influence those who have an aggressive predisposition already. Instead, increases in aggressive thinking occurred across the entire demographic spectrum, with the study's abstract noting, "This effect is not moderated by sex, prior aggressiveness, or parental monitoring and is only slightly moderated by age, as younger children had a larger increase in initial aggressive cognition related to initial violent game play at the beginning of the study than older children."
A separate synthesis of existing video game research reinforces Gentile's findings. Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, told USA Today, "We just finished a major review of studies, looking at 381 effects of violent video games in over 130,000 people. We found that violent video games unmistakably raised levels of aggression and heart rate, and decreased feelings of compassion toward others."
In the same article, USA Today contributor Julia Savacool references a third study showing another link between gaming activities and real-world behavior: She writes, "A study in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal Psychological Science found a correlation between the type of character people chose to play and their behavior immediately following the session. Assuming the role of a virtual villain, for instance, prompted players to treat people in negative ways after the game concluded, according to study co-author Patrick Vargas, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. Meanwhile, those who played the virtual hero acted more generously toward others in a post-game setting. The bottom line: Emotions and attitudes generated in the virtual world do not simply disappear once the game is finished, and the interactive component of video games enhances this lingering effect." [healthline.com, 3/24/14; gamespot.com, 3/26/14; archpedi.jamanetwork.com, 3/24; usatoday.com, 3/30/14 stats, c&e]
"What's illustrated [by Modern Family] is the way that the media influences the way that people think about life. The portrait there that's being presented is designed to make you think that same-sex households are wonderful, they're loving, this is paradise, this is the optimum nurturing environment for children, to make you think that heterosexual marriage is bondage, it's dreary, it's gloomy, and we know that the social research indicates exactly the opposite. You know, that's the danger. It's just like getting a little bit of poison over a long period of time, eventually getting enough accumulation in there where it can be kind of lethal to the organism. And I think that's what you're seeing with a lot of this programming. It has to do with kind of the basic view of morality and marriage and life and family that people have. It's very corrosive; people are just watching TV to be entertained, not realizing that their view of life is being twisted in a way that's very harmful to them and harmful to our culture."
—Bryan Fischer, director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy for the American Family Association, in an conversation with conservative talk show host Kevin Miller [salon.com, 3/27/14]
The gun manufacturer Berretta reportedly paid $250,000 to have its products prominently placed in the recent film Lone Survivor. And while product-placement deals are generally hush-hush, there's no question that gun makers value the way movies promote their products. "Movies sell guns," says Brian Graves, who owns BMK Arms Inc. "When a TV show is aired or a movie comes out, everyone wants to say, 'Well, punk, do you feel lucky?' Remember that Clint Eastwood did Westerns, and those firearms sell big time today. Each and every time a new movie comes out and the 'hero' uses his trusty firearm, it gets looked at and talked about." Perhaps the best example is that of the fictional "Glock 7" handgun, featured prominently in Die Hard 2. "After that, everyone wanted a Glock handgun," says Wesley Morris, who owns Ten Percent Firearms in California. "That movie literally made Glock in America; they weren't popular before that." [foxnews.com, 3/25/14 c&e]
Actress Scarlett Johansson's latest film, the dark sci-fi thriller Under the Skin, is generating publicity due to explicit scenes and the fact that some of her victims (she plays a sensual alien luring men to their deaths) were normal guys who didn't even know that they were in a movie at first. Johansson's character wore a black wig and drove a white van around Glasgow, Scotland, seeking to strike up conversations with men on the street and trying to convince them to get in the van with her, where she improvised her dialogue. They didn't know she was an actress or that they were being secretly filmed. Only later were they informed that they had been filmed and asked to sign release forms. Some reportedly then participated in steamier scenes. When asked if he recognized the famous actress at the time she "picked him up," electrician Kevin McAlinden said, "I thought I recognized the face a wee bit but it didn't really click." [time.com, 4/3/14; huffingtonpost.com, 4/3/14; thedailybeast.com, 4/3/14]
"We've experimented with the limits of what people can handle. We've had a male organ in movies. We found out that 20 seconds of someone naked is probably too much, and people will leave the theater if you have full frontal nudity for an extended period of time. But if you make it five seconds, they'll laugh and say it was great."
—director and producer Judd Apatow, discussing his experimentation with how much nudity will fly in film and, now, with his involvement in HBO's Girls, on television. Apatow said that even HBO—notorious for its prodigious use of skin in its programs—has its limits regarding how much sex it's comfortable showing. "There have been things on Girls where HBO has said to us, 'If we put this on TV, we literally could lose our broadcast license,'" Apatow said. [foxnews.com, 3/25/14]
Compared to the likes of Girls, Leave It to Beaver is quintessentially innocent television. But the family-friendly drama actually rubbed censors the wrong way with its second episode in 1957. Wally and The Beav planned to buy a pet alligator and keep it in the family toilet. "At that time, you not only couldn't show a toilet, you couldn't show a bathroom on television," recalls Jerry Mathers, who played Beaver. "It was prohibited." Eventually, the show came to a compromise with the censors: They kept the camera focused only on the top of the toilet tank. [foxnews.com, 3/27/14]