Monday, February 21

An infinite mirror: media use

It's like the New York Times read my blog... that, or I'm just one voice in a cacophony of bewilderment about the shifts in social media use.

...I'll flatter myself today.

Blogging is far from arcane, at this point (or is it?). The NYT reports that while youth (12-17 year-olds) are moving in hoards to the quicker forms of social media (e.g., Twitter and Facebook), the 18-33 year-olds are going strong with blogs.

I'm beginning to wonder if this isn't a reflection of a larger trend. Like, the trend of children with cell phones.

Blogging almost inherently requires a computer—be it laptop or desktop—to pound out a draft, complete with links and synthesized thoughts. (Perhaps I'm setting the stakes too high by suggesting that all blog posts synthesize information?)

Tweeting, however, can be done from a cell phone. The same is true for Facebook updates.

In 2010, the NYT reported that 66% of children (8-18 years-old) own cell phones (up from 39% in 2004).

On average, young people spend about two hours a day consuming media on a mobile device, the study found. They spend almost another hour on “old” content like television or music delivered through newer pathways like the Web site Hulu or iTunes. Youths now spend more time listening to or watching media on their cellphones, or playing games, than talking on them.

What's to say that the same children consuming media with their cell phones aren't also creating media for consumption, à la Facebook or Twitter? If kids are more likely to have cell phones than computers (or, at the very least, spend more time on their cell phones than computers), wouldn't it seem likely that they'll interact with whatever media is easiest for that mode of communication?

Maybe I'm speculating. I can't seem to find a readily accessible news report on children and their Twitter and Facebook habits (beyond studies tiptoeing around the idea that children divulge too much personal information, which is a different topic altogether). Nonetheless, it seems to me that if there's a drop off in blog use that it might have something to do with the devices the next generation is using.

Blogging may remain popular for traditionalists (like me) who enjoy writing for a community (defined or undefined) to share news or introspection, but social media have won their place in the world, for better or worse.

The generational divisions in media use, however, will most likely only be teased out by examining the modes for access (i.e., cell phones, desktops, laptops, iPads, etc.). It's not that younger generations reject certain modes, but that they embrace others more, which will ultimately be seen as a reflection to the wider world of media use as other, newer media enchant younger, newer generations.

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