- We think of media use as a modern invention, but the age of media usage (and abuse) actually began in the mid-1800’s with the invention of the telegraph! Telegraph operators chatted and played games, such as checkers, long-distance with each other. This sometimes interfered with the work they were supposed to be doing! A nineteenth-century novel even chronicles the tale of a couple who fell in love, sight unseen, over telegraph communication!
- One concern about media consumption is the time spent on the activity. Whether computer or TV usage is beneficial or not, it still consumes time that could be spent with others, working, exercising, creating, or even sleeping.
- Media usage affects the brain. One speaker claimed that “The more television you watch, the dumber you get!” Numerous studies were cited, showing that screen time really does affect the brain. Playing video games can produce a drug-like “high,” making the players to want/need more and more. In fact, playing games on big or small screens can trigger a response in the brain that gives the player a feeling that he or she has accomplished something. (Think of all the young adult males who prioritize gaming over work and relationships and other responsibilities.)
- Media usage affects children’s development. Children that watch more that 1/2 hour a week of media use use have higher rates of ADHD and behavior problems.
- Media promotes self-absorption, causing us to be less other-focused and less relational. Note the YouTube slogan, “Broadcast Yourself!” Are most of us really that remarkable that we need to be broadcast to the world?
- Media influences behavior in both positive or negative ways. Studies have long shown that children exposed to violent programming tend to behave more aggressively with others. Producers certainly understand this fact, and for many years, have shaped society’s values and behavior through television and movies. It is so easy for us to believe that a show is innocent fun while we are being influenced by negative attitudes or gratuitous s*x. David Frost says, “Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your house.”
In addition to the full-length Captivated movie, the disc also includes several hours of bonus material, consisting of full interviews with many of the experts that contributed to this documentary. I tend to skip over the bonus material on DVD’s, but found this well worth watching, since it went more in depth on many of the issues.
While the Captivated DVD does address the many dangers of media consumption, it also acknowledges the benefits. It is certainly hard to imagine our lives without the advantages of cell phones and the internet. These tools can be time savers and are very useful in education, communication, and business. Watching TV and movies can be an enjoyable way for families to spend time together. But, I think that most of us agree that there are negative effects as well. We each need to make decisions for ourselves and for our families as to what place media will have in our lives and how much time it will consume. I think that Captivated is an excellent tool for opening discussion on this topic and in aiding families to discern possible limits.
The Captivated DVD sells for $16.95 (free shipping), with discounts for purchases of larger quantities.
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