Author Archives: mediainmind

About mediainmind

Education: BFA in Painting & Sculpture from California College of the Arts (Oakland); Executive MBA in Executive Management from the Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at the Claremont Graduate University (Claremont); MA and PhD in Media Psychology from the Fielding Graduate University (Santa Barbara). Experience: Over 40 years experience in marketing, advertising, and public relations on the client and agency sides of the business; for-profit and nonprofit, as well as government. Special Expertise: The interface between human behavior and the media. It's all about "media in mind."

The Mom Effect

MIT Technology Review posted an article back in November headlined “Two studies lay the blame for childhood screen tie at moms’ feet.” One study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. (JAMA), the other was published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), The former used survey data to check on preschoolers screen time to see if World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines were being observed and the latter looked at how children adopt screen viewing habits.

MIT Tech Review notes, “Moms bear the brunt of the blame in these studies because that’s how this kind of research has always been done.” The article also goes on to note that not all screen time is the same; some is good, some not (as I noted in my post just prior to this one).

It’s a quick and interesting read.

Here is the URL for the article:

https://www.technologyreview.com/f/614759/two-studies-lay-the-blame-for-childhood-screen-time-at-moms-feet/

 


Not All Screen Time Is Equal

An op-ed in the journal Nature by two Stanford professors asserts that much of the research around the effects of “screen time” is inherently flawed because of its reliance on participants’ self-reports of time spent viewing their screens. As one of the op-ed’s authors, Thomas Robinson, notes, there are different varieties of screen time that are capable of producing quite different effects.

To see the problem, consider four adolescents. The first spends three hours a night playing video games and chatting with fellow gamers on Discord. The second spends three hours browsing and posting on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. The third spends three hours passively watching Netflix and YouTube. The fourth never sits down with a device for longer than 20 minutes at a time but gets notifications on their phone every five minutes throughout the day and typically spends only a few seconds or minutes responding to each.

Co-author Byron Reeves (who also co-authored, with Clifford Nass, The Media Equation [1996]) discusses a new research approach that is more invasive but likely to be more informative and reliable. The Medium article by Will Oremus that covers the op-ed is here:

https://onezero.medium.com/scientists-are-ready-to-move-beyond-screen-time-d403b058e9ec


New Study Shows Weaknesses in Research About Screens and Teens

Amy Orben at Cambridge University has conducted an exhaustive analysis and meta-analysis of studies looking into the effects of adolescent use of digital media and screen time. Her conclusion is that the research overall is far from definitive and often flawed. Her study concludes with suggestions for improving the methodology. Here’s the link:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00127-019-01825-4

This is an open-source site and you may download a PDF of the study.


Social Media and Eating Disorders

Well, here’s an interesting Medium article by a pediatrician discussing a link between social media use and eating disorders in young people.

https://elemental.medium.com/does-social-media-cause-eating-disorders-622a2c1e9f3f

A more direct source for the study is here:

https://www.healio.com/psychiatry/eating-disorders/news/online/%7B909b5c53-b22c-4f66-aaef-622dfdffc44e%7D/social-media-use-associated-with-disordered-eating-among-young-adolescents

And apparently, it’s not just the female gender that is affected. Lead investigator Wilksch found 45% of male adolescents in the study were affected.


Can Scary Movies Be Good for You?

It seems that scary movies may have therapeutic effects by way of relieving anxiety. It may seem counterintuitive, but some recent research is now weighing in on the subject:

https://elemental.medium.com/horror-movies-can-be-good-for-anxiety-b542ac8dbed7

 


Do Screens Really Stunt Kids’ Brains?

Apparently, time spent viewing screens can stunt development of white matter in the brains of 3- to 5-year-olds, according to recent research by John Hutton, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the study leader.

On the other hand, the article points out that:

Daniel Anderson, a professor emeritus in psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who was not involved in the study, says that while it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that screen time is bad for kids, there are alternative explanations for the result. “We know that real-time interactions with adult caretakers are really important for language development in young children, and we know that screens can’t fill that gap,” he says. “What they may have found simply is that screens are a proxy for minimal parent-child interactions.”

The article goes on to say that Hutton agrees with Anderson’s interpretation. Here is the link to the piece from Elemental Medium:

https://elemental.medium.com/do-screens-really-stunt-kids-brains-b491d62e9ed3


New Research Says Screen Time for Youngsters May Actually Be a Good Thing

A study by Andrew Przybylski of the Oxford Internet Institute has found that screen time for children may actually be beneficial, in contrast to other studies that have nearly universally concluded that screen time is bad. Przybylski takes issue with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which are:

  • children between 2 and 5 should be limited to “one hour a day of high-quality programming”
  • infants between 18 and 24 months can have screen time so long as it’s high quality and with a caregiver
  • babies shouldn’t be exposed to screens other than video chat

Przybylski and his colleagues used the same data set from the National Survey of Children’s Health via the US Census Bureau between June 2016 and February 2017 to come to different conclusions than those reached by, among others, Jean Twenge,  “one of the most prominent critics of letting children have screen time and the author of the book iGen, which argues that technology is making kids less happy.”

The two researchers disagree with each other, needless to say. Here’s the link to the article in MIT Technology Review about the new study.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614619/screen-time-is-good-for-youmaybe/?utm_source=newsletters&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=the_download.unpaid.engagement

 


A Historian’s Perspective on Networks

Niall Ferguson, a British ex-pat now living in the USA and a member of Stanford’s Hoover Institution, has given a very engaging interview about the relationship between ideas and the networks that propagate them. It’s an insightful piece and one I recommend highly.

“One should never decouple ideas from the network structures that propagate them.”

 


Great Video on Social Media Engineering

This video was uploaded by Donna Roberts in another blog and I was so impressed by it that I decided it needed more exposure. This video reinforces the very critical book about Facebook by former Zuckerberg early-stage mentor/supporter Roger McNamee, Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe.

It reveals the neurological science being exploited by social media programmers to hack our brains, hence the segment’s title, “Brain Hacking.”


Mass Shootings and the Media

People keep talking about what should be done to put an end to mass shootings and killing in general. People mention things like assault weapon bans, universal registration, red flag laws, and so on. Some folks think the Second Amendment should be repealed. But it seems to me, as someone who has worked with, studied, and interacted extensively with the media industry, that one thing is being overlooked: The role and responsibility of our media channels in perpetuating all this mayhem.

I think we need a media code of ethics that says simply, “We refuse to publish the name and likeness of anyone who is accused of, suspected of, involved in, or convicted of the killing of another person.”

If the media would cut off access to our eyes and ears by these killers (actual or alleged), they would lose part of their incentive to engage in such acts. Would it be a cure-all? No, of course not. Would it help? I think so. And no doubt some media channels—especially some so-called social media channels (that are actually anti-social)—would still seek to sensationalize and publicize these acts and their perpetrators.

But if the so-called mainstream media and the major social media purveyors were to take away the chance of getting public notoriety for their acts, it would eliminate one source of satisfaction for these mindless killers, who deserve no satisfaction at all.

That’s my two cents. Who will take up this banner?


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