Media Consumption

Media consumption or media diet is the sum of information and entertainment media taken in by an individual or group. It includes activities such as interacting with new media, reading books and magazines, watching television and film, and listening to radio.[1] An active media consumer must have the capacity for skepticism, judgement, free thinking, questioning, and understanding.[2]


For as long as there have been screens, cameras, and photos, the people of the world have been consuming media. Around 1600 the camera obscura was perfected. Light was inverted through a small hole or lens from outside, and projected onto a surface or screen, creating a moving image. At this point in time, media consumption had a very small effect on society compared to today.

In the 1860s mechanisms such as the zoetrope, mutoscope and praxinoscope that produced two-dimensional drawings in motion were created. They were displayed in public halls for people to observe.[3] This was one of the first displays of media to the public in the way that it is consumed today.

Around the 1880s, the development of the motion picture camera allowed individual component images to be captured and stored on a single reel. Motion pictures were projected onto a screen to be viewed by an audience. This moving camera affected the progression of the world immensely, beginning the American film industry as well as early international movements such as German Expressionism, Surrealism and the Soviet Montage. For the first time people could express themselves through the medium of film, and distribute their works to consumers worldwide.

In San Francisco on September 7, 1927, the electronic television was first successfully demonstrated. The system was designed by Philo Taylor Farnsworth, a 21-year-old inventor who had lived in a house without electricity until he was 14.[4] By 1941 the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) was broadcasting two 15-minute newscasts a day to a tiny audience on its New York television station. However, the television industry did not begin to boom until the end of WWII.[5] Eventually television began to incorporate color, and multiple broadcasting networks were created.

In the 1960s the first computer was created. in 1975 the first computers made for consumers were released by IBM. Two years later Apple, a new competitor, came out with their first computers.

On August 6, 1991 the internet and World Wide Web became available to the public. This was the start of the easily formatted internet that people use today.[6]

In 1999, Friends Reunited, the first social media site, was released to the public. Since then, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks have been created. Facebook and Twitter are the top social media sites in terms of usage.[7] Facebook has a total of 1,230,000,000 consumers while Twitter has 645,750,000. Both companies are worth billions of dollars, and continue to grow.[8]

Overall media consumption has immensely increased over time, from the era of the introduction of motion pictures, to the age of social networks and the internet.

People involved

Media is the sum of information and entertainment media taken in by an individual or group. The first source of media was solely word of mouth. When written language was established, scrolls were passed, but mass communication was never an option. It wasn't until the printing press that media could be consumed on a high level. Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith and businessman from the mining town of Mainz in southern Germany printing press.[9] His technology allowed books, newspapers, and flyers to be printed and distributed on a mass level.

The first newspaper written on paper was done by Benjamin Harris in the British-American Colonies.[10] The invention of a newspaper was one of the most influential pieces in media consumption history, because it pertained to everyone.[11]

Eventually communication reached an electronic state, and the telegraph was invented. Harrison Dyar, who sent electrical sparks through chemically treated paper tape to burn dots and dashes, invented the first telegraph in the USA.[12] The telegraph was the first piece of equipment that allowed users to send electronic messages. A more developed version came from Samuel Morse, whose telegraph printed code on tape and was operated using a keypad and an earpiece.[12] The pattern of communication soon became known as Morse code.

Inventors Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both independently designed the telephone.[13] The telephone was simple enough for everyone to use and didn't require learning a code.

Soon after the telephone came the radio. Combining technology from both the telegraph and telephone, Guglielmo Marconi sent and received his first radio signal in 1895.[14]

Finally in 1947, after a long period of development, television exploded as a medium. Not one person is responsible for the creation of the television, but Marvin Middlemark invented "rabbit ears" in 1930, which allowed for televisions to be a commercial product.[15] The television has by far been the most influential consumed media, and allowed news to spread on a visual level.

In 1976, Apple created the first consumer computer.[16] The computer was the start of mass written communication using email. Apple continues to be a leading company in computer use.


Among other factors, a person's access to media technology affects the amount and quality of his or her intake.[17] In the United States, for instance, "U.C. San Diego scientists in 2009 estimated the 'average' American consumes 34 gigabytes of media a day."[18] The amount of media consumption among individuals is increasing as new technologies are created. According to, a new study done by a researcher at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, says that by 2015, the sum of media asked for and delivered to consumers on mobile devices and their homes would take more than 15 hours a day to see or hear,[19] an amount equivalent to watching nine DVDs' worth of data per person per day.[19]

With social media networks rapidly growing such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, our world of media consumption is reaching a younger and younger age group, making our consumption that much larger as a country.[20][21][22] With mobile devices such as smartphones, news, entertainment, shopping and buying are all now at the tip of our fingers, anytime, anywhere.[23]

Positive effects

There are a number of positive effects of media consumption. Television can have positive effects on children as they are growing up. Shows like Sesame Street teach valuable lessons to children in developmental stages, such as math, the alphabet, kindness, racial equality, and cooperation.[24]Dora the Explorer introduces foreign language to children of all backgrounds in a fun, cooperative environment.[24]

Mass media has a huge grasp on today's adolescents. Many young people use different types of social media daily. Mass media can be used to socialize adolescents from around the world and can help to give them a fundamental understanding of social norms.[25]

Media relating to advertising can also have a positive effect. Some alcohol manufacturers are known to spend at least ten percent of their budget on warnings about the dangers of drinking and driving.[24] Also, studies show that milk consumption (though controversial) shot up in children fifteen years of age and younger due to print and broadcast advertisements.[24]

Many video games can also have positive effects. Games like Wii Tennis and Wii Fit improve hand-eye coordination as well as general mental and physical health.[26]

Video games, including shooting games, with an abundance of violence, improves a child's learning, physical as well as mental health and social skills. These games that are rated for mature adults are beneficial to the development of children according to a study that was published by the American Psychological Association (APA). When a child plays a video game, they naturally develop problem-solving skills. Strategic video games, such as role-playing games, release statistics that the more intense game play improved in problem solving skills and there is a significant rise in school grades as well, according to a study that was taken over a several year span but was published in 2013[26]. The study also showcased that the creativity of children was also enhanced by playing all genres of video games, including once again violent games. Research revealed that video games benefit children more than using other sources of technology.

The internet itself is a huge positive for people of all ages, as it now is a personal library for anyone who has access.[24] The number of educational websites and services offered are so immense that research has become a task much easier than it was in the past. Social media has also provided many benefits for people over time, as it has been evaluated as a pro-social way of interacting with people all over the world.[27]

For those in education, on both sides of the fence media consumption is crucial.[28] Instructors as well as students across all grade levels consume media for school curricula in Ontario. Media literacy is prominent to the youth who enter an era where the media is a surrounding factor. When a student learns to approach certain media sources with a critical lens, its understood that all forms of media have no sense of neutrality.[29] Students who consume media are capable of questioning the media they are consuming, that relatively improves knowledge. To broaden thei understanding and knowledge, they often find it easier to question an author's purpose, the reasoning for certain images being used, the representation of content and its meaning to certain individuals, and overall the effects of the media being consumed and a personal as well as social level. Media relating to learning is a source as well as a tool. Since its start many use Rosetta Stone (software) to help guide them into learning a new language. It is a source that is compatible because it is portable and can be used in several platforms i.e.(Ipad,Tablet,Phone Apps Websites).[30]

Negative effects

Media consumption can have a wide range of negative behavioral and emotional effects.[31] There are many instances of violence in movies, television, video games and websites which can affect one's level of aggression. These violent depictions can desensitize viewers to acts of violence and can also provoke mimicking of the acts. Since violence is so rampant in media, viewers believe they live in a more violent world than they actually do.[31]

The reach of media is expanding globally and with this television has become a vice around the world. Television addiction has been labeled as the plug in drug since 1977. Over the years televisions are now located in almost every home, according to most recent estimates taken by Nielsen in the U.S. alone there are 116.4 million T.V. homes[32]

Television can have a negative impact on adolescents and cause them to behave in a manner that is not part of normal social norm in an artical about media violence on society it states that extensive TV viewing among adolescents and young adults is associated with subsequent aggressive acts[33] Programs that portray violent acts can change an adolescent's view on violence and this may lead them to develop aggressive behavior. These shows usually portray a person who commits a crime or resorts to violence. They also show that these people go unpunished for their crime, creating the notion that crime is something a person can get away with. Studies show that 65% of people between the age of 8 to 18 have a television in their room[34].The average high-schooler watches, on average,14 hours of television a week[35].

When adolescents watch Television for long periods of time they spend less time being active and engaged in physical activity. Many Adolescents who spend large amounts of time watching television see actors as role models and try to emulate them by trying to be like them this can also have a negative impact on people's body images, mostly women[35]. After seeing beautiful and thinner than average women in the media, viewers may feel worse about themselves and sometimes develop eating disorders.[36] Some believe that the reason obesity rates have greatly increased in the last 20 years is due to increased media consumption. This is due to the fact that children are spending much more time playing video games and watching television than exercising.[37]

Another problem that has developed due to increased media consumption is that people are becoming less independent. With text messaging and social media, people want instant gratification from their friends and often feel hurt if they do not receive an immediate response. Instead of having self-validation, people often need validation from others.[38] Another issue with independence is that since children frequently get cellphones when they are very young, they are always connected and never truly alone. Today, many children do not have the rite of passage of being on their own because they can always call their parents if they need help or are frightened.[38]

Semiotics of American youth media consumption

American youth have personal television sets, laptops, iPods and cell phones all at their disposal. They spend more time with media than any single activity other than sleeping. As of 2008, the average American age 8 to 18 reported more than 6 hours of daily media use. The growing phenomenon of "media multitasking" -- using several forms of media at the same time--multiplies that figure to 8.5 hours of media exposure daily. Media exposure begins early, increases until children begin school, then climbs to peak at almost 8 hours daily among 11 and 12-year-old children. Media exposure is positively related to risk-taking behaviors and is negatively related to personal adjustment and school performance.[39]

Of teenagers ages 12 to 17, 78% have a cell phone, and 47% of those own smartphones. 23% of teens have a tablet computer and 93% have a computer or access to one at home. Of teenagers ages 14 to 17, 74% access the Internet on mobile devices occasionally. One in four teens are cell-mostly users, meaning that when accessing the Internet, they mostly use their cell phones.[40]

Media consumption, especially social media consumption, plays a major role in the socialization and social habits of adolescents. Socializing through media differs from socializing through school, community, family, and other social situations. Since the adolescents have a greater control over their media choices than over other social situations face-to-face, many develop self-socialization. This is where we actively influence our own social development and outcomes because of the vast array of choices. Adolescents can choose media that best fits their personalities and preferences, which in turn create youth that have a skewed view of the world and limited social interaction skills. Socialization can be awkward for youth, especially with the integration of media. Media, parents, and peers may all convey differing messages to adolescents. With multiple views of how to approach a situation, confusion can be apparent and the youth may often give up or internalize their social situations.[41]

Social semiotics make up a large part of how adolescents learn and employ social interaction. Impressionable adolescents regularly imitate the sign systems they see in the media. These semiotic systems affect their behavior through connotations, narratives, and myths. Adolescents are shaped by the sign systems in the media they consume. For example, many young girls in the 1990s dressed and acted like the Spice Girls, a popular band. Similarly, boy bands created a trend of many teenage boys frosting their hair in the early 2000s. With more exposure to the media and images of models, young women are more likely to conform to the ideal of being thin. Anorexia, bulimia and models smoking convey to girls that a feminine person is thin, beautiful, and must do certain things to her body to be attractive. A code of femininity (see media and gender) implies today that a "true" woman is thin, girlish, frail, passive, and focused on serving others. On the other hand, the code of masculinity for a young boy growing up in our culture may include the ideals of cowboys and secret agents. The images, myths, and narratives of these ideas imply that a "true" man is a problem solver, physically strong, emotionally inexpressive, and a daredevil who doesn't care about rules.[42]

The flood of signs, images, narratives, and myths surrounding us influence our behavior by the use of codes. Codes are maps of meaning, systems of signs that people use to interpret their own and others' behavior. Codes connect semiotic systems of meaning with social structure and values. The idea of being judged on femininity or clothing relates to experiences later in life with job interviews and being successful.[43]

Signs, myths, and codes do not affect us physically like a drug, but psychologically. We think with signs, though we don't eat, breathe, or physically interact with them. The power that sign systems have is their role in generating and maintaining shared expectations and shared interpretive frameworks. Signs do not force us to have certain interpretations. They open a door, creating the context for other people's interpretations of us, and even more importantly, our own expectations of what others think. Sign systems are merely tools, but they have become the common currency for communicating. Signs have become something we can accept or criticize, but not ignore.[43]

Media consumption has become part of our culture code and has shaped the youth through socialization and how they interpret the signs and world around them. For example, older generations see the symbol for a phone and think that it is something to call someone with. The younger generations, especially the youth now, see a phone as a mini-computer and a way to avoid physical contact or face-to-face communication.

See also


  1. ^ Jeff Lewis (2002). Cultural Studies: The Basics. London: Sage. 
  2. ^ "2.0 Chapter 2: Becoming an Active User: Principles". Mediactive. Retrieved 2013. 
  3. ^ Marketing (May 25, 2009). "Media Consumption Patterns and a Short History of Screens". Marketing Magazine. Retrieved 2014. 
  4. ^ Stephens, Mitchell. "History of Television". Grolier Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2014. 
  5. ^ Bellis, Mary (March 5, 2014). "The History of Computers - Computer History Timeline". Inventors. Retrieved 2014. 
  6. ^ Bryant, Martin (August 6, 2011). "20 Years Ago Today, the World Wide Web Opened to the Public". The Next Web. Retrieved 2014. 
  7. ^ UNCP (2013). "The Brief History of Social Media". The Brief History of Social Media. UNC Pembroke. Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. Retrieved 2014. 
  8. ^ Smith, Craig (March 9, 2014). "DMR". DMR. Expanded Ramblings. Retrieved 2014. 
  9. ^ Bellis, Mary. "Johannes Gutenberg and the Printing Press". Inventors.About. 
  10. ^ Ringer, Wesley. "History of the Bible: How The Bible Came To Us". godandscience. Retrieved 2014. 
  11. ^ Editors, The. "Benjamin Harris". Britannica. Retrieved 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Bellis, Mary. "The History of the Electric Telegraph and Telegraphy". inventors.about. 
  13. ^ Bellis, Mary. "The History of the Telephone - Alexander Graham Bell". inventors.about. Retrieved 2014. 
  14. ^ Bellis, Mary. "The Invention of Radio". Retrieved 2014. 
  15. ^ Bellis, Mary. "Television history". Retrieved 2014. 
  16. ^ "The History of Computers". Retrieved 2014. 
  17. ^ Davis, Aeron (2010). Political Communication and Social Theory. Taylor & Francis. 
  18. ^ Phelps, Andrew (November 8, 2011). "Ethan Zuckerman wants you to eat your (news) vegetables -- or at least have better information". Nieman Journalism Lab. 
  19. ^ a b Zverin, Jan. "U.S. Media Consumption to Rise to 15.5 Hours a Day - Per Person - by 2015". UC San Diego New Press. Retrieved 2014. 
  20. ^ Lunden, Ingrid. "Instagram is the Fastest-Growing Social Site Globally, Mobile Devices Rule Over PCs For Access". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 2014. 
  21. ^ "Social Networking Fact Sheet". Pew Research Internet Project. Retrieved 2014. 
  22. ^ "Managing Media: We Need a Plan". American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved 2014. 
  23. ^ Vanac, Mary (January 4, 2013). A Whole Grocery Store at Your Fingertips. The Columbus Dispatch. 
  24. ^ a b c d e "National Center for Biotechnology Information". U.S. National Library of Medicine. PMC 2792691Freely accessible. 
  25. ^ Christopher E, Beaudoin (2014). "The Mass Media and Adolescent Socialization: A Prospective Study in the Context of Unhealthy Food Advertising". Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly; Columbia. 91: 544-561 - via ABI/INFORM Collection. 
  26. ^ a b "Video Games Play May Provide Learning, Health, Social Benefits". Retrieved .  External link in |website= (help)
  27. ^ "Children's Media Use: A Positive Psychology Approach - Oxford Handbooks". Retrieved . 
  28. ^ "Critical Media Literacy: Free Lesson Plans". Western Centre for School and Mental Health. Retrieved 2017. 
  29. ^ Pavlik ,McIntosh, John , Shawn (2017). Converging Media: A New Introduction to Mass Communication, 5th edition. Oxford University Press. 
  30. ^ Griffin, Robert; Martinez, James; Martin, Ellice (2014). "Rosetta Stone and Language Proficiency of International Secondary School" (PDF). ECV: Engaging Cultures and Voices. Retrieved 2017. 
  31. ^ a b Bryant, Thompson, Jennings, Susan (2013). Fundamentals of Media Effects. Waveland Press Inc. p. 155. 
  33. ^ CRAIG, ANDERSON (29 MAR 2002). "The Effects of Media Violence on Society".  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  34. ^ "Children, Adolescents, and Television". 
  35. ^ a b "Impact of media use on children and youth". Paediatr Child Health. 8: 301-306. May-June 2003. 
  36. ^ Yamamiya, Yuko; Thomas F. Cash; Susan E. Melnyk; Heidi D. Posavac; Steven S. Posavac (June 18, 2004). "Women's exposure to thin-and-beautiful media images: body image effects of media-ideal internalization and impact-reduction interventions". Elsevier. Body Image: 74. 
  37. ^ Boero, Natalie (2007-03-01). "All the News that's Fat to Print: The American "Obesity Epidemic" and the Media". Qualitative Sociology. 30 (1): 41-60. doi:10.1007/s11133-006-9010-4. 
  38. ^ a b Turkle, Sherry (2011). Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Basic Books. pp. Chapter 9. 
  39. ^ Roberts, D; Ulla Foehr (n.d.). "Trends in Media Use". The Future of Children. 18 (1): 11-37. doi:10.1353/foc.0.0000. 
  40. ^ "Teens and Technology 2013" (PDF). Retrieved . 
  41. ^ Arnett, J. "Adolescents' uses of media for self-socialization". Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 24 (1): 519-533. 
  42. ^ Dotson, M; Eva Hyatt. "Major influence factors in children's consumer socialization". Journal of Consumer Marketing. 22 (1): 35-42. doi:10.1108/07363760510576536. 
  43. ^ a b "Semiotics and Advertising". Retrieved . 

Further reading

  • Shaun Moores (1993). Interpreting audiences : the ethnography of media consumption. London: Sage. 
  • Wei-Na Lee; David K. Tse (1994). "Changing Media Consumption in a New Home: Acculturation Patterns among Hong Kong Immigrants to Canada". Journal of Advertising. 23 (1). 
  • Bohdan Jung (2001). "Media Consumption and Leisure in Poland in the 1990s: Some Quantitative Aspects of Consumer Behaviour". International Journal on Media Management. 3. 
  • B. Osgerby (2004). Youth Media. New York: Routledge. 
  • Michael J. Dotson; Eva M. Hyatt (2005). "Major influence factors in children's consumer socialization". Journal of Consumer Marketing. 22: 35-42. doi:10.1108/07363760510576536. 
  • B. Palser (2005). "Controlling Your Media Diet". American journalism review. 27 (1). 
  • Nick Couldry; Ana Ines Langer (2005). "Media Consumption and Public Connection: Toward a Typology of the Dispersed Citizen". Communication Review. 8. 
  • Teresa Orange; Louise O'Flynn (2005). The media diet for kids: a parents' survival guide to TV & computer games. London: Hay House. 
  • Wenyu Dou; Guangping Wang; Nan Zhou (Summer 2006). "Generational and Regional Differences in Media Consumption Patterns of Chinese Generation X Consumers". Journal of Advertising. 35 (2). 
  • J. Sefton-Green (2006). Review of Research in Education. American Educational Research Association. 
  • Nick Couldry, Sonia Livingstone & Tim Markham (2007). Media Consumption and Public Engagement: Beyond the Presumption of Attention. England: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1403985340. 
  • J. Fornas; et al. (2007). Consuming Media: Communication, Shopping. NY: Berg. ISBN 1845207602. 
  • Sonia Livingstone; Tim Markham (2008). "The contribution of media consumption to civic participation". British Journal of Sociology. 59 (2). 
  • Youna Kim (2008). Media consumption and everyday life in Asia. NY: Routledge. 
  • E. Peterson (2009). "Media consumption and girls who want to have fun". Critical Studies in Mass Communication. 4: 37-50. 
  • Steven Leckart (2009). "Balance Your Media Diet". Wired. 17 (8). 
  • Ke Guo; Ying Wu (2009). "Media Consumption and Global Visions Among Urban Chinese Youth". China Media Research. 5 (4). 
  • Scott Althaus; Anne Cizmar; James Gimpel (2009). "Media Supply, Audience Demand, and the Geography of News Consumption in the United States". Political Communication. 26. 
  • Sharam Alghasi (2009). "Iranian-Norwegian Media Consumption: Identity and Positioning". Nordicom Review. 30. 

Media diets of notable people

External links

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