Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Second Screen Effect: Raising A Generation of Media Multitaskers

In the April 1st issue of Adweek, there is a cool infographic about the issue of the second-screen effect. At my house, I call that behavior "doing two media at once." I frequently have to tell my son, "Stop doing two media at once." Apparently he's not the only one who has caught on to this idea. 

According to the stats (via Adtheorent):

Among those with a TV and computer, 52% are somewhat or very likely to use another device while watching television. (Source: IAB)

So called "media multitasking" is on the rise particularly with younger people. The article goes on to state that media multitaskers have fewer emotional highs and fewer lows. I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news -- or neutral like their emotions. 

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a fellow copywriter / blogger / social friend and also father to a teenager. We were discussing all the implications of our kids being tethered to a phone, tablet or other device. He said he does check his daughter's phone from time-to-time to see what she's texting. What he found alarming was that she is often texting about nothing. Literally. Nothing.

"What r u doing?"


"what r u doing..."


Really, this is text-worthy? How much radio frequency is used up by texting "nothing" back and forth between teenagers? It's ridiculous. Or so it would seem to me. And to my friend. Not so to the youngsters. 

I didn't actually get a cell phone until I was 35 years-old. I only caved after realizing that with a new baby, there might be need for me to call someone for say roadside assistance or I'm running late to daycare or something else that I would consider urgent. Now of course, I'm on my phone alot talking to friends, surfing the web, updating my social channels on twitter and facebook and pinterest.

One time I walked in on my son and he was on his phone Skypeing with a friend while watching TV on his iPad. He had turned his phone to face the tablet so his friend could watch the show too. They were watching TV together on the phone. I don't understand this behavior. Or possibly it's that I can't relate. 

Adweek calls the younger generation digital natives, while I fall into the nonnative category. I can remember a time when there was one home phone, one TV with only a handful of channels, and these things called books. Was it a better time? I don't know. It was my time. Now it's the digital natives' time. I hope they use their power for good. Just don't use it for nothing.

You can find me on the twitter @fightingfinn or sometimes I go outside without any device at all.


  1. Tonight I was watching Project Runway and playing Words with Friends at the same time. My husband busted me. Perhaps I do understand.

  2. And I remember my mother looking askance at me in front of the TV during the day. "Go outside and and play," she'd say. Made sense then and now.

  3. Will I like your mom already. My mom shut our TV down for a few years. Interesting experiment. I never realized the Fonz was giving the thumbs up when he said, "Hey" or whatever he was saying.