Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Multitasking the TV

According to some U.K. research discussed in this story, 80 percent of young people use their mobile phones while watching TV and 72 percent comment specifically about the programs to social media, mostly Facebook and Twitter. 

I'd be excited if it were the news generating such interest and involvement, but unfortunately it's not.  "The most popular shows commented on by respondents," says the article, "include ITV’s The X Factor and Coronation Street, Channel 4’s Skins, E4’s Glee and the BBC’s EastEnders."  In other words, the fun stuff, not the news stuff.

So we have a potential upside and downside here, at least in terms of what people know:
  • Upside: When they do watch news (not often), perhaps young people also post to social media, thus helping reinforce their exposure to such information and, by extension, their knowledge.  It's a testable notion.
  • Downside: Do you actually learn while watching TV and posting about what you see?  Evidence from previous studies on multitasking suggests not, but as far as I know no one has specifically tested this with news and posting about news.  All you budding mass comm scholars out there, here's one to grab and go with.

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