The Lotz introduction mentioned a trend of media scholars to cite their childrens’ conception of television as an indicator of where the medium might be moving in the future. For example, Lotz cites Jason Mittell’s anecdote about his daughter’s notion of the DVR in their home, ” [he] notes that when she came to ask, ‘what is on television?’ the question referred to what shows might be stored on the hard drive, as she had no sense of the limited access to scheduled programming assumed by most others” (Lotz, 18). This made me think of my three-year-old nephew, who, when asked if he wants to watch something on TV, will always assume that we mean pulling up one of his favorite shows on Netflix (which he usually watches on a television screen). If this is a recurring trend with today’s children–that they equate “television” with the instant gratification that comes with what is stored on their DVR or in their Netflix queue–how much will that affect the future of scheduled programming on network TV? Children’s programming certainly still exists on TV, but I’d be curious to see the recent trend in viewership over the years and whether it has been majorly impacted by the popularity of Netflix and similar formats that make it easier for kids to occupy themselves, whenever they (or their parents) want, with a low-maintenance activity.
On a similar note, what are we to make of the proliferation of the use of new tech gadgets among kids? I feel like there is a tendency among our peer group to scoff when we see a toddler “using” an iPad, but how much of that reaction is founded in jealousy, and how much in an actual disdain for the activity? Do the age-old critiques of the dangers of kids watching too much TV change when the format of the technology changes?
I would imagine that the increased portability of these new gadgets (laptops, phones, tablets) would cause many alarm when put into the hands of children. Previously, you could at least monitor what your kids were watching assuming they were just parked in front of the set in your living room. The sooner kids get their own tech toys, the harder it is to control what they’re exposed to. At the same time, the spread of TV into multiple technological formats might hold a certain appeal to parents who now have the power to keep their kids visually entertained wherever they are, so long as they have one of these devices on them. It might be the kind of thing where we’ll have to wait and see what studies reveal concerning the long-term effects of these new formats of television viewing among children, but does anyone else have any thoughts in the meantime?