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Invasive Technologies: Part Five

09/03/2017
Michael Stewart
Valoda: EN

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Invasive Technologies Part 5
Screen Time

The fifth in our series of articles on the theme of invasive technologies and the effect these have had on our lives, this week we consider the shift in viewing patterns from traditional television to the digital device.

From the first regular, high definition public broadcast in 1936, television broadcasting in the UK has grown exponentially and currently consists of approximately 500 channels, including free-to-air, free-to-view and subscription services available over a variety of distribution media, excluding on demand provision. This amounts to 27,000 hours of domestic content produced annually.

This rapid growth has been driven by public demand; by 2014, 95% of homes in Britain owned at least one television set. However, it is worth considering this figure in context as television ownership in the UK reached an all-time high in 2012 (96.3%) and began to decline the following year to 95.5% in 2013.

Naturally, this will prompt the scaremongers among us to ask: has terrestrial television had its day?

All change

In Ofcom's Infrastructure Report published in 2014, figures show that in July of that year, 47% of traffic to BBC’s iPlayer service came from tablets or mobile devices; an increase of 22% from October 2012.

In the UK, the national average of those watching television via laptop devices is 3%, but for those within the 18-24 age group it is five times higher at 15%.

Certainly in the UK, these figures indicate that our viewing habits are shifting; evolving to include new technologies and our ever-changing tastes.

How much is too much?

According to market research company Childwise, 5-15 year olds in the UK are devoting three hours of their day to internet use, two hours to television and 30 minutes to the reading of books. (2016)

In summary, the report states that while television viewing has dropped by 33% since 2000/2001, time spent online has increased by 50% over the same period for this age group.

However, the report doesn’t differentiate between internet based alternatives to traditional television broadcasting such as iPlayer, ITV Hub, Amazon Prime and Netflix and other forms of browsing such as engagement with social media. Therefore, it can be argued that the target group could be watching the same, or an even greater, amount of television, which features content originally intended for terrestrial television broadcast; but choosing to access it through an alternative route.

Naturally, as with any report that provides us with a distillation of our youths’ viewing habits, commentators will extrapolate to conclude that the target age group is watching less television, which is good, but they are engaging with digital devices more frequently and for longer periods of time – this is bad, very bad.

Obviously, there is a point to be made and a conclusion to be drawn here: the increasing amount of time that our children spend online is the latest manifestation of the old argument that children watch “too much” television.

The complete version of this article can be accessed by following this link.

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Michael Stewart

Michael Stewart has extensive experience in the writing, directing and delivery of education programmes across a range of media. More recently as a member of the board and management team of the Interactive Design Institute, Michael has fulfilled a wide variety of functions including the development of pedagogy for online delivery.
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