Culture Clips: We’re Consuming More, More Media

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Pssst! Hey, you. Yes, that’s right—you there, the one staring at me on that screen of yours. Just what do you think you’re doing? Well, I’ll tell you: You’re consuming media, that’s what. Right at this very second. And you’re hardly alone.

According to a study by eMarketer, the average adult spends more than 12 hours a day consuming media. That’s more time than most of us spend working or snoozing.

How is that even possible, you ask? Well, let me ask another question of you. What else are you doing right now? Eating a bagel? Listening to some tunes? Watching a television show?

Many of us multitask when it comes to media: We might watch a TV show while scanning Instagram, for instance. Another interesting tidbit: The time we spend consuming media via digital means—particularly our smartphones—is steadily increasing. We spend around 3 hours and 14 minutes on our smartphones or tablets, and a little more than 2 hours on our desktop and laptop computers. But we also tend to watch more than four hours of television a day, too, not to mention the time we spend listening to music or reading a book or whatnot.

Most of us don’t think that’s an issue … for us. We’re adults, after all (we tell ourselves). We can handle it. We’re certainly not like that lady who went on a date to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and couldn’t stop texting. (Her date filed a lawsuit against her, asking for the $17.31 he spent on her 3D ticket.)

But when it comes to our kids, we think digital media—particularly smartphones—are a problem. Nearly three-quarters of us (72%) feel it could be a distraction to our little ones under 13. Nearly as many (71%) worry they’ll simply spend too much time on it.

There’s now a name for a child’s obsession with electronic devices: “Electronic screen syndrome,” coined by Dr. Victoria Dunckley. “The child goes into a state of hyper-arousal, and the brain just starts to malfunction, so you see problems with focus, behavior and mood,” she tells ABC News.

It’s a good thing we adults don’t need to monitor our own screen times, because it seems that television producers are doing everything they can to make us regress back to our own childhoods. We talked last week about the scads of “new” television shows that are really reboots or continuations of old ones. Well, that trend continues: CW will be introducing a new Dynasty reboot this fall (based on a prime-time soap that was in its heyday in the ’80s), while Netflix will air a fifth season of Arrested Development. (That’s fifth season total, second season on Netflix, for those of you keeping score.)

Does it seem like television networks are getting a little … desperate? Ratings are indeed way down these days—tumbling dramatically even from what they were just two or three years ago. But according to Vulture, ratings aren’t the end-all, be-all that they once were. Since ratings are down, advertising dollars are also down, so networks are looking for more creative ways to pay the bills.

The entertainment world was awash in some tragic news over the last few days—most notably the suicide bombing that took place in Manchester, England, as an Ariana Grande concert was wrapping up. Grande suspended the rest of the tour following the attacks, and Grande’s mother was apparently instrumental in helping many fans to safety.

But the attack also threw Mister Rogers—who passed in 2003—back into the limelight. First, a quote from the beloved PBS icon made the rounds on Twitter: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the  news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” That, in turn, inspired Entertainment Weekly’s Anthony Breznican to share a story on Twitter of when he met Mister Rogers in person. It made me a little teary-eyed, actually. Worth checking out.

We lost two other well-known entertainment figures in the last week. Chris Cornell, best known as the frontman for the grunge band Soundgarden, died from his own hand. He was 52. And Roger Moore, best known for being James Bond through much of the 70s and ’80s, died from cancer at age 89.

Is all this news making you anxious? Well, have no fear. There’s an app for that, apparently. And since we know that the time we spend with media simply can’t be the problem, feel free to use it as much as you wish.