Can I Have Your Attention Please? – BCM240 Major Research Project

How often have you been out with friends catching up and caught them glaring down at their personal screen scrolling through their social media accounts? We can’t live without them.
Presenting a research enquiry into the assumption that we, as active members of the 21st century and the technology revolution, have grown reliant upon our portable devices and the internet.

This Post Is Not Available In Your Country

If you haven’t quite gathered it yet, I love the internet. Well, I love MOST of the internet. It has allowed me to learn more about things that have captured my interest (as well as those that haven’t.. thanks high school), maintain friendships that would otherwise not exist due to distance and time, keep up to date on the happenings of those that I love, and watch as many travel videos as I please in order to make myself feel like I’m constantly on the move. What a gem it has been in my life!

Sometimes, however, it likes to rain on my parade and be a hater just because of where I live, or where other people live. Regulations on media access via the internet have grown to become quite restrictive in relation to content that is able to be viewed or shared, particularly in Australia.

Let’s talk about YouTube as a prime example. Has anyone ever come across this screen?

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If you haven’t, it probably means you live in the United States, but Australians down under will know where I’m coming from.

The fact of the matter is, for one reason or another, there are many videos published on YouTube that do not meet our country’s media regulation guidelines and  therefore have been blocked to restrict consumption. The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) works alongside YouTube in ensuring content remains within the code of practice, however, this is not an easy job, particularly given that YouTube is a user-generated media platform.

Copyrighted media, such as music or film footage, is the key issue in relation to such regulation. YouTube’s Terms of Service explicitly outline their position on this matter –

You further agree that Content you submit to the Service will not contain third party copyrighted material, or material that is subject to other third party proprietary rights, unless you have permission from the rightful owner of the material or you are otherwise legally entitled to post the material and to grant YouTube all of the license rights granted herein.

Furthermore, The YouTube community guidelines again relay this notion in stating –

Respect copyright. Only upload videos that you made or that you’re authorized to use. This means you can’t upload videos you didn’t make, or use content in your videos that someone else owns the copyright to, such as music tracks, snippets of copyrighted programs, or videos made by other users, without necessary authorizations.

This means that any video that uses over 10 seconds of a song that isn’t under a Creative Commons License will be given restricted access or be removed from the site altogether. So pretty much, if it’s copyrighted, don’t use it. However, amateur YouTube users (much like you and me) who wish to publish content online for the enjoyment of ourselves and others in our immediate circle are therefore restricted in what we can and can’t post. For example, below is my YouTube Channel.

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I have a total of nine videos, with six of these being university related posts. This is a snapshot of my creator studio, where you’ll see that 2 of my latest 3 videos have alerts on them, either for copyrighted content or a blocked notice.

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Looking into this further on the last video, the alert has come as a result of my music choice for the video. As a result, it has been blocked in a number of countries. And this is merely a video I made for fun with footage taken on a trip in 2015. Imagine what kind of censorship exists in relation to ACTUAL content that may raise issues that are controversial in society.

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The internet has widened the possibility for media access for the everyday individual, but regulations and censorship guidelines that have grown in light of this greater access has meant that Australians are needing to find alternative routes to access the same content as the rest of the world. VPN service providers which change the location of your computer in the eyes of the internet, routers, and piracy websites have become common practice, just ask my media class. In fact, studies have shown that Australians are twice as likely as Brits to pirate content from the internet.

At the end of the day, all we want to do is be able to access the same content at the same time as the rest of the world. Copyright breaches? Fair enough, but restrictions because of internal disagreements between networks and internet providers meaning we can’t access content? Not cool.

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Reference List – 

Australian Interactive Media Industry Association 2007, Review of Restricted Access System Declaration 2007, AIMIA Digital Policy Group, available from <http://www.acma.gov.au/~/media/Online%20Content/Issue%20for%20comment/June%202014/AIMIA%20-%20Review%20of%20Restricted%20Access%20System%20Declaration%202007%20FINAL%20pdf.pdf&gt;.

Bajde et al. 2015, ‘Back to Consumption and Production? Prosumers Negotiating The WMG Lockdown on YouTube’, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 296-306.

Breanna O’Neill 2016, Youtube Channel, available from <https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYWei0zwpwfrjktZqxd-ORw&gt;.

I Couldn’t Think Of A Good Title Because I Was Too Distracted By Netflix – a true story

I like to think that I’m a fairly well-rounded individual with quite an innate ability to multitask at any given time. For example, I can catch up on a lecture through the online recording while taking notes, keep up conversation with a friend in the U.S., scroll through my socials to make sure I haven’t missed too much and eat like a pig all at the same time. Hey, at least I’m being productive?

My mother often likes to remind me that she believes I have an attention span equivalent to that of a two-year-old watching a movie. On one hand, I can see where she’s coming from, but there are really just TOO many things going on in our lives today for us to just be focusing on one thing at a time.

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Technology, as a double-edged sword, has both helped and hindered us in our attention-focusing ability. Xu et al. (2016, p. 243) note that media multi-tasking, being the ‘simultaneous pursuit of two or more relatively independent tasks, with at least one of the tasks involving media’, greatly impacts the social and physiological well-being of university students, overall denoting a lower success rate particularly in social situations.

 

So we shouldn’t multi-task, I get it. But how in the world do I keep up with last week’s lecture, this week’s readings, the homework for class tomorrow, the news about Brangelina, Prince Harry’s new haircut, the next episode of Orange is The New Black…

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…Sorry, I got distracted on the other tab.

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So, attention. To put to the test my mother’s (and apparently the academics of the world) theory, I ran an experiment that would give us an insight into how much attention we can truly focus on multiple things, and whether or not this is something of growing concern today. Friday morning, whilst running around like a headless chicken getting ready for the day, I asked my brother, 18, and mum whether they would be willing to help with an attention-based experiment I was running. So long as it didn’t involve them moving all that much, they were in. Phase 1 – COMPLETE.

We all sat down that night after dinner to watch a movie. I’d picked up the newest Captain America movie at the shops knowing full well none of us had ever seen it. The plan was to put on the movie and note who got distracted when and by what exactly. It is important to note that both my brother and my mum have a phone and an iPad each, as well as at least one social media account. Plenty of media multitasking to be done by all! By the end of the movie, I’d fact check the key points of the movie with how much they retained from watching it.

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4 minutes and 32 seconds. That’s how long my brother lasted before something on his iPad seemed to catch his attention. Mum was a little more impressive, but alas at 12 minutes and 4 seconds, she too succumbed to the pressures of her iPhone. I’m not saying I’m perfect, by the 7-minute mark I had a text and three Facebook notifications that made me lose my focus. In hindsight, it’s rather sad that a blockbuster Hollywood film can’t hold our entire focus for at least 15 minutes, but in this day in age, I guess that’s the way it is. By the end of the film (which by the way was GREAT highly recommend for all you Marvel fans out there) the three of us combined had lost focus a total of 27 times. Despite this, however, of the major points that I had taken down of the movie’s plot line, both mum and my brother were able to relay each to me in chronological order, as well as give me their favourite parts. BONUS POINTS!

In 2006, Time Magazine released a cover story entitled ‘genM: The MultiTasking Generation’. 2006. Think about that for just a second. Did every child over 10 have the latest iPhone in 2006? Absolutely not. Did 3-year-olds understand how to operate tablets and Netflix back then? Not a chance. Were we all constantly connected to each other through the internet? Not unless you were Steve Jobs. So much has changed, and yet here we are 10 years later talking about the same ideas.

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It isn’t easy to stay on top of everything and still remained focused in the dynamic environment that is life in the 21st century. Multitasking is important, and I believe, vital in successfully making it through life in this day in age, but maybe one day a week we should spend a little time off the grid. No phones, no tablets, no internet. Get our brains back to enjoying the simplicity of life right in front of us, no strings attached.

Reference List:

Chen, Y et al. 2016, ‘Online, Mixed and Offline Media Multitasking: Role of Cultural, Socio-Demographic and Media Factors’ Computers in Human Behaviour, vol. 62, pp. 720-729.

DeWeesee, K.L. 2014, ‘ScreenTime- How Much Is Too Much? The Social and Emotional Costs of Technology on the Adolescent Brain’, PhD Thesis, Dominican University of California.

Wallis, C 2006, ‘genM: The MultiTasking Generation’, Time Magazine, 27 March, viewed 17/09/2016, <http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1174696,00.html&gt; .

Xu, S et al. 2016, ‘Media Multitasking and the Well-Being of University Students’, Computers in Human Behaviour, vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 242-250.

Joined at the hip – A Research Proposal

I have always been one to struggle with being creative and unique in the formation of ideas. Once I’ve got my head around where I want to go with something, there’s no stopping me, but the start of the whole process is just about as frustrating and exhausting as asking a 2-year-old what they want for dinner.

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In exploring the various topics discussed throughout Media, Audience and Place, there have certainly been some hits and misses in regards to interest levels, but that is to be expected. Not everyone is going to be into television’s evolution through time, and that is totally fine. To each their own right?

Despite this, I have taken up a particular interest in the ideas we formed around technology in public spaces. The exploration of the semi-public space that has evolved as a result in our interdependence and need for constant technology usage resonated with my own experiences as part of the younger side to Generation Y.

Discussions have also arisen in classes around the idea of media regulation and expectations of others (as well as ourselves so as to not be hypocrites) in public scenarios. Essentially, how much attention have we come to demand of people in social and other public settings now that we all have the world at our fingertips?

With this in mind, I did a little examination over a week or so leading into this proposal formation to test out a couple of ideas that I possibly wanted to further examine for my final project. Every time I found myself in a social situation, be it a meal with a friend, dinner with my family, some down time with a group of mates, or even on Skype, I took note of how often the other person/people looked at their phones, be it to check for notifications or to engage with social media for no apparent reason.

As to be expected, this happened more often than not. The matter of fact is, we really do struggle to live away from the network we have grown to become so reliant on, and so despite being in the physical presence of those you may have on social media sites or interact with through technological means, the need to continue one’s immersion does not stop.

What do you want to know more about?

I want to explore the idea that we, as active members of the 21st century and the technology revolution of the past 15 years, have grown reliant upon our portable devices and the internet to help us feel constantly connected to the world around us. Have we lost that personal touch because of this, or do we still demand high attention and involvement in social and public spaces regardless of all of this? This project will mainly focus on the younger generation (18-25-year-olds).

What will be the digital platform you may choose to explore this idea through?

I quite enjoy video editing and production, and so want to utilise the skills I have learnt in perhaps putting together a video piece that incorporates video interviews or discussions with friends and peers about the idea in question, whilst bringing in past research done in order to reach an overall conclusion on technology and the future.

Keep Moving Forward – Technology and the Semi-Public Space Evolution

The beauty of technology is that it has enabled us to stay connected no matter where we may find ourselves. Grab yourself a mobile device of any kind, some kind of connection to a mobile service, and you’re on the grid.

The downside of technology is also that it has enabled us to stay connected no matter where we may find ourselves. We’re never truly alone – whether this is a positive thing or not comes down to who you’re talking to.

Let’s first just clarify a couple of terms that I think are going to be really important in the development of this technology based discussion we’re leading into.

  • Public Space – A setting in which individuals may share physical space or share a common interest or objective. For example – shopping centres, gyms, public transport vehicles.
  • Private Space – A place where an individual is alone and therefore not in the direct company of others. For example – their bedroom or personal apartment.

You would struggle in this day in age to walk through a local shopping centre or board some form of public transport and find a person under the age of 13 without some type of mobile device. Whilst, yes, you find yourself in this public space, each individual divulged into this digital media space has created their own private environment, allowing them to some extent to fit the molds of both of these settings.

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The mobile device has given us a whole new meaning to the term ‘socialising’ that we had never really encountered. Social media truly only emerged less than 20 years ago, and has only made a true impact on the way we interact in these spaces in the last 10 years – we’ve definitely made some progress people! The revolution in the smartphone market came with the release of Apple’s first iPhone back in 2007; it was unlike anything that had been released up until that point, and people went crazy for its ability to do everything their other phones couldn’t.

So how have these changes impacted how we act in public and private spaces and is there now some middle ground between the two, a sort of semi-public space?

In February I spent some time travelling around the United States following an internship I had taken the previous semester. I wound up in North Carolina on my travels; a southern state on the east coast well known for its environmentally diverse landscape and GREAT food. I was staying with my friend Alex, a third-year college student at Western Carolina University. One of the days I was there, she invited me to spend a day on campus with her, an opportunity I jumped at (because who doesn’t want to go on a holiday and visit OTHER universities while you’re there right?).

During our visit, we went and hung out in the library in between one of Alex’s classes. I had brought a book with me that day just in case I ran out of things to look at whilst she was in class, and so delved into that upon finding a comfy chair. A chapter in, I looked up to see how Alex had been keeping herself busy (cause once I’m into a book there’s no going back), and happened to snap this.

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Here we are, in a shared public space with plenty of physical literature to indulge in, digital technology to use to our advantage and even other individuals to socialise with, and yet the mobile device in her hand is all consuming of her attention.

Don’t mistake me here – I do this quite regularly. I think we are all guilty of it at some point – crossing the boundaries between your presence in both public and private spaces. But where does this leave us in terms of the true human interaction process and experience?

I think this new idea of a semi-public space experience encapsulates all of the modern evolutions technology has graced us with over the past 10 years and is therefore merely a step towards where we head next. Hatuka and Toch (2016, p. 2192) challenge us through their article findings to ‘re-think the relationship between information and communications technologies and practices of sociability in public spaces.’ We are moving forward here, and embracing everything coming our way.

In regards to our ethical necessity in this change in private and public spaces and the use of technology within them, it is important that we remember each individual’s right to privacy, and respect them they way we would want to be respected when out in public. The Art’s Law Centre of Australia breaks some of the ethical guidelines down, particularly in regards to street photography. For example, although the photo I took of Alex was taken without her knowledge, I made sure I showed her the image after, and asked permission to keep it on my phone for future use (if necessary). She agreed – I’m not ethically unsound, people!

We, as members of the 21st century, have the power to dictate just how much progress we make over the next century in our history. Look at how far we’ve already come in just 10 years! All we must do is remain ethical towards each other, and open to the possibilities of change. In the words of the great Walter Elias Disney –

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

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Source: Giphy.com

Reference List – 

Colberg, J 2013, The Ethics of Street Photography, online article, Conscientious Extended, viewed 2/9/2016, http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/the_ethics_of_street_photography/

Hatuka, T  & Toch, E 2016, ‘The emergence of portable private-personal territory: Smartphones, social conduct and public spaces‘, Urban Studies, vol. 53, no. 10, pp. 2192-2208.

mipods 2011, Steve Jobs Announcing the First Iphone in 2007, online video, posted October 8, viewed 2/9/2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGoM_wVrwng.

alpha m. 2014, How To Be a Gentleman: Public Cell Phone Ettiquette, online video, posted August 18, viewed 2/9/2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scecZE9dIcc.

Cinema Suicide – Hagerstrand and the Need To Evolve

The movies have always been a place of special occasion in my life. Birthdays, good grades in school, a celebration of the end of summer; it is a well-indulged treat that I still look forward to, even as a 20-year-old Uni student who is very capable of taking herself to the movies whenever she pleases.

However, there is no denying that the convenience and ease of new and emerging technologies and offerings in the market, like Netflix and Stan, have had a true impact on cinema audiences, resulting in a severe decline as of late. The beauty of the internet and this change in technology has meant that people have greater access to their entertainment needs at a greater convenience – we don’t have to leave the house and spend more money in order to gain the same benefits the cinema going experience can offer us.

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Source – Huffington Post

Whilst there are many reasons as to why audiences have turned away from the big screen in favour of the small, Swedish geographer Torsten Hagerstrand identified a framework for three key constraints to which people may be limited by in travelling to a certain place at a set time. The constraints are as follows –

  • Capability: these are the biological and physical limitations that are present, such as the need to travel to the place, the ability to get to the place, and the financial restraints present (Hagerstrand 1969, mentioned by Corbett 2001, p. 1-3).
  • Authority: the formal and informal ‘rules’ present that outline if an event or scenario may take place, and when, where and how it may do so. For our cinema-goer’s, these are the formal and social rules outlined by both the formal body as well as social practice (Hagerstrand 1969, mentioned by Corbett 2001, p. 1-3).
  • Coupling: the need to ensure times are matched up and easily accessible for both the individual as well as others in questions (i.e. if there are multiple people attending at once). Coupling constraints often coincide with capability constraints (Hagerstrand 1969, mentioned by Corbett 2001, p. 1-3).

With these in mind, I thought I would put Hagerstrand’s framework in play to analyse my own cinema experience, putting to the test the idea that going to the movies is growing redundant to the at-home experience.

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Narellan Cinemas

This past weekend was one of my best friend’s 25th birthdays, and so to celebrate, we decided to make an afternoon of just girl time. There were three of us in total, which heightened the possibility of issues in coupling our time. As I had work that morning, it was decided we would meet just after lunch at the shopping centre midway between each of our houses, ensuring none of us were at an advantage/disadvantage in having to travel too far. We ate lunch before heading into the cinemas and hadn’t gone ahead and planned which movie we wanted to watch, so our coupling constraint in terms of time we had to eat lunch before making the movie was removed.

Upon heading into the foyer, we mutually decided upon Suicide Squad, the 2016 alter-superhero movie starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie. There were two possible sessions we could make at this point – 2:00pm or 3:15pm. Being 2:05pm at that point, we either had to rush ourselves through and take the risk of poor seating for the 2:00pm session, or wait about an hour and occupy ourselves until the 3:15pm session. Due to the constraint the 3:15pm session would put on our departure time from the cinema, we opted for the earlier time slot, and rushed ourselves through, grabbing a bucket of popcorn each on the way.

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Suicide Squad Movie Poster

The cinema was fairly crowded, and as the previews had started, we needed to remain quiet in making our seating choices to as to not bother the others already in their spots.

Seated third row from the back, with popcorn in hand and eyes fixed on the screen, the movie begun. The only real constraints present from this point forward were those that were authoritative. It is important to note that I believe these social constraints are a driving force in the changes to cinema audience behaviours; in the comfort of one’s own home, you can pause and play the movie at any point, take phone calls, respond to Facebook posts, chew as loudly as one wishes (on food that may or may not be potent of smell) and not climb over anyone else in the row in order to get to and from the bathroom.

Overall, Hagerstrand was definitely onto something, and our ever-changing society that has come to embrace convenience and ease in their daily life must now call on the cinema industry to evolve and adapt to this changing way of life.

There truly is something about going to the movies and feeling as though you are immersed into a completely different story than your own for a little while that makes it feel like a special occasion. I hope that societies of the future don’t miss out on that something at the hands of social and technological pressures.

Reference List – 

Anderson, Z 2013, ‘A Tribute To The Movies’, Online Video, published February 23rd, viewed 26/8/2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JszbwWJCwSY.

Corbett, J 2001, Torsten Hagerstrand, Time Georgraphy, University of California, Santa Barbara, pp. 1-3.

Schonfelder, S & Axhausen KW 2010, ‘Time, Space and Travel Analysis: An Overview’, in S Schonfelder & KW Axhausen (eds), Urban Rhythms and Travel Behaviour: Spatial and Temporal Phenomena of Daily Travel, Ashgate Publishing Company, Surrey, p.29-48.

Witherbridge, G 2015, Hagerstrand Not the Irrational Man: An Analysis of Why Tumbleweeds Have Replaced Jaffas Rolling Down the Cinema Aisles, Blog, Accessed 26/8/2016, https://givernywitheridge.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/hagerstrand-not-the-irrational-man-an-analysis-of-why-tumbleweeds-have-replaced-jaffas-rolling-down-cinema-aisles/

 

 

What’s In A Television Memory?

For someone who was born in the 1930’s, my pop is pretty up to his scratch on the ‘haps’ of the technological world. Don’t be mistaken, he’s not out flying drones or experiencing virtual realities, but he can write, send and receive emails on his laptop, navigate his iPhone with ease, and he just learnt how to scan all on his own. He’s got this whole new generation thing down to a tee if you ask me!

Television was first introduced in Australia in 1956, and so roughly the first 20 years of pop’s life were television free. Yes, boys and girls, that meant they had to go outside to find entertainment, or read the newspaper or listen to the radio to hear the news! How unfortunate are we to have all of that at our fingertips…

…this was better than Christmas to her!

With two daughters, a wife, and a busy construction job that often required him to leave the state and the country for periods of time longer than a month, pop finally went out in 1969 and bought the first family television for their household, ‘I remember Anne-Maree (the oldest) being especially excited, being almost 8, she had numerous friends whose family’s had T.V’s, and this was better than Christmas to her.’

Turnball and Hanson (2015, pp. 151-152) point out that ‘people’s significant memories of television were inextricably bound up with when and where they were at the time, whether this was their particular life-stage or exactly where they were, and with whom,’ I thought it was interesting that pop remembers how excited his eldest was at the newest addition to the house, and so following my conversation with him, I went home and spoke to Anne-Maree (my mother by chance) about her memories in regards to their first television. Her immediate response was, ‘Oh, some of our closest family moments were spent in front of the box!’ That overwhelming feeling of family clearly resonated from both discussions around their shared memories; a true reflection of what Turnball and Hanson noted in their article.

He is quick to point out that the experience was very different to what we (his grandkids he is speaking of here) had as young children. Anne-Maree and Julie were limited to 4 hours per week of television time to start off with, and at least one of their parents had to be with them every time the box got switched on. Unlike now, he says, their choices were very limited, and in order to restrict the fighting either mum or dad would always pick the program. In the words of Milly Buonanno (2008, pp. 14-15), this era was the time of ‘television domestication’, whereby the medium was going through a transitional phase from entertainment source that encouraged people to get out of the house (Buonanno, p. 12) to a domesticated state that saw it as a regular accessory in the family home. This transitional era formed the basis to which we, as members of the 21st century, now know television to be (you would be hard pressed to find a home without at least one on any given street).

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Source – giphy.com (Party Legends GIF)

 

We should have been using the television as a baby-sitter years ago, what were we thinking!

Nan and pop, for example, now have two television sets in their home; one in the main lounge room, and the other in the bedroom (pop tells me he likes to watch the news as he nods off to sleep, but we all now he actually wakes up at 7am to watch the rerun of Bold and The Beautiful from the day before). This is vastly different from his initial viewing experiences, whereby nan and pop would take the couch side by side, whilst Anne-Maree and Julie would occupy the floor. It truly was a family experience. Commenting on the clear difference in his (and his children’s) television memories and experiences and that of my own growing up around the same age as his children, he notes that it is very clear how present it was in our lives. His favourite story to tell was that of a time when my brother and youngest cousin were ‘in a mood’ one day as toddlers whilst being minded by my nan, ‘Nan called your mother up because she just could not get them to calm down from this tantrum they were throwing. Your mother, so calm in her response, simply said “Turn on Bear in the Big Blue House. I guarantee it will shut them up.” Low and behold, on goes the television, down sit the two kids and the house returns to a peaceful state. Your grandmother was so in shock as to how fast the situation changed that she calls me and just says, “We should have been using the television as a baby sitter years ago, what were we thinking!”

Returning to Buonanno’s discussion of the various era’s of television experiences, such is a clear indication of today’s ‘television children’ (2008, p. 14); those that are too young to remember the rarity of the television in the home, and have therefore grown up accustom to the T.V. set(s) being part of the furniture. It is still so intriguing to me, as a member of these television children, to think about how different life would have been with the absence of access to a television so frequently. The overall feeling of family and time spent together truly resonated with me following my discussion, and whilst I have certain memories in which the television and my family shared the same space, those memories are few and far between.

Finishing off our mugs, and heading towards the kitchen to clean them off before heading about our way, pop’s last words on the subject really sum up television memories and the changes in its role in our everyday lives, ‘It’s all well and good to put a television in a room and have everyone sit down and watch a show and share an experience, but nothing replaces sitting in a room with no television and creating an experience that will last as a memory in itself’.

References:

Buonanno, M 2008, The Age of Television: Experiences and Theories, Intellect, Chicago U.S.A.

Hanson, S & Turnbull, S 2015, ‘Affect, Upset and the Self: Memories of Television in Australia’, Media International Australia, vol. 1, no. 157, pp. 12-16.

watvhistory 2009, 52 years of TV in Australia 1956 to 2008, online video, July 1, viewed August 4th 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgLZR2OFntc.