Watching Tweevee: Old & New Media Use At The Same Time

If you’re engaged with multiple forms of media–both ‘old’ or traditional media like TV, newspapers and magazines or ‘new’ media like social networks, blogs and real time communications like Twitter–then you are probably one of a growing number of us who use both old and new simultaneously.

When I wrote the post, “MSNBC’s awesome Super Tuesday primary coverage” and started off the post with “This, my friends, is the future of television” I believed it then and believe it even more now. It’s just that the connections to traditional TV weren’t exactly what I expected when using the multimedia platform delivered by the gang over at MSNBC, and that emerging technologies would make TV watching a shared experience similar to the “old days” when many of us would hang around the water cooler at work the morning after some TV event or show and commiserate about it.

The crew over at the Nielsen Company just released a new report that is revealing more about how people are watching “Tweevee” (my made up name for a combination of Twitter use and TV watching):

Americans increased their overall media usage and media multitasking according to The Nielsen Company’s latest Three Screen Report (PDF), which tracks consumption across TV, Internet and mobile phones.  In the last quarter of 2009, simultaneous use of the Internet while watching TV reached three and a half hours a month, up 35% from the previous quarter. Nearly 60% of TV viewers now use the Internet once a month while also watching TV.

The rise in simultaneous use of the web and TV gives the viewer a unique on-screen and off-screen relationship with TV programming,” said Nielsen Company media product leader Matt O’Grady. “The initial fear was that Internet and mobile video and entertainment would slowly cannibalize traditional TV viewing, but the steady trend of increased TV viewership alongside expanded simultaneous usage argues something quite different.

It went on to talk about DVR use (surprise…more of us are timeshifting our video use!) and then in to online video consumption:

Online video consumption is up 16% from last year. Of note, approximately 44% of all online video is being viewed in the workplace.  The research shows that Americans watch network programs online when they miss an episode or when a TV is not available.  Online video is used essentially like DVR and not typically a replacement for watching TV.

Active mobile video users grew by 57% from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009, from 11.2 million to 17.6 million.  Much of this increase can be linked to the strong growth of smartphones in the marketplace.

Here’s the deal: No question in my mind that connecting socially makes it more fun to watch a live event (e.g., Academy Awards, Grammys, Super Bowl) and see what our friends are saying about it, almost like they’re in the room with us. But what’s more intriguing to me is that more of us are consuming information, connecting socially and engaging online while doing something else.

Is TV too boring? Is it the ability to share with our friends and acquaintances? Are we more capable of multitasking then we thought? Maybe all or some of those, but we’re also discovering that for every hour of TV watching we do, the increase odds we’ll die go up 11%.

One this is certain though, the way we connect with others and consume media has already changed forever.


  1. CMNS 253 Assignment 2 & 3 « kbr84 on June 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    CMNS 253 Assignment 2 & 3
    June 23, 2011 by kbr84

    Reza Khosandi
    Simon Fraser University
    CMNS 253
    Jean Hébert
    Graeme Webb
    The New Media and the New Forms of Communication
    Assignment 3
    Man is a social being and hence he is in need of constant communication. While communication in the past was highly restricted by lingual, social, and geographical barriers, the modern communication devices ranging from mobile phones, internet, and various other means have made it possible to break many of these barriers. The effects of modern means of communication ranging from text messaging, messaging, emailing, and chat have been profound. While many scholars argue that the benefits of them outweigh the demerits, there is another school of thought arguing the opposite. According to studies, over sixty percent U.S households have a personal computer and more than fifty percent have access to internet. Considering this spread of modern communication devices, it seems necessary to look into their effects on communication and other social spheres. This study intends to look into various scholarly works on the issue ranging from the positive and negative impacts of modern means of communication on society, especially on young ones.
    The Positive Side of Modern Means of Communication
    There are various advantages of the use of these modern means of communication according to scholars. In the opinion of Matusitz (2007), it is the best way of communication for the people who are intimidated by others’ expression. According to him, people who are generally shy and reserved in face-to-face interaction tend to communicate naturally on internet (Matusitz). A similar opinion comes from Wakefield and Rice too; according to them, cyber communication is an effective way for those children who might not otherwise be confident to communicate. Another point as put forward by Matusitz (2007) is that internet helps conquer the geographical barriers too.
    Yet another considerable benefit is the impact of modern means of communication on culture. Evidently, modern means, especially internet, promotes cultural diversity. In addition, it has become evident that internet provides a chance for smaller groups like Jews to remain homogenous as it helps them preserve their culture, tradition, and language through effective communication with other members as national and geographical barriers are no more hindrances for the modern means of communication (Matusitz).
    An obvious benefit pointed out by Matusitz (2007) is that internet leads to the disappearance of the barriers erected by society and geography. It is evident that the people who do not have a chance to interact in their physical world can easily remain in touch through the modern means of communication. Thus, in the opinion of Wakefield and Rice (2008), by integrating internet with communication, students become able to share knowledge, personal perspectives, and experiences effectively.
    In addition, there comes the finding that the modern ways lead to more social interaction as people who spend time in the ‘digital realm’ tend to make tons of friends (Matusitz, 2007). Furthermore, there comes the finding that the development of virtual communities using modern means like internet helps improve the psychological wellbeing of people. This claim is based on the ideology that such virtual communities help sharing of interests, principles and beliefs. Thus, for those who face physical barriers, the virtual society gives a ‘sense of social interaction, and belonging’ (Matusitz , 2007). Almost the same notion comes from Wakefield and Rice; according to them, more and more youth are using internet as the main source of self-help. For purposes ranging from medical condition, support groups, and other issues that require emotional support, internet has become the best and easiest way.
    While other people work on the sociological and psychological benefits of modern means of communication, Janko (2002) looks into how the quality of information passed improves when modern means of communication are used; according to him, by using internet, the quality of communication can be considerably improved. For example, he points out that it is possible to eliminate or filter unwanted information through different means (SPAM filtering, COOKIES prohibition etc.). In addition, according to Janko (2002), points like storing, comparing, and editing information become significantly simple when modern communication devices are used.
    Now, having seen a number of advantages of using modern communication means, it is time to look into the demerits of them too.
    The Disadvantages of Using Modern Communication Means
    In the opinion of Kraut and Kiesler (2003), the use of internet leads to a decline in psychological wellbeing in people; from their study, it became evident that the use of internet introduces more activities and social obligations into ones life, leading to an increase in stress. Another important drawback they observed is that individuals who use these modern means of communication often face a decline in their social circle and interaction with their family members. Consequently, they face increased depression and loneliness. A similar opinion is expressed by Matusitz (2007) that the use of modern means of communication leads to a decline in the quality of interaction in the physical environment as people are less likely to engage in face-to-face communication. Another problem identified is the lack of accountability and obligation in the virtual world. Those who are used to this lawlessness and pseudo identity of the digital world are less likely to feel responsible in the real world too.
    Yet another issue is that when people get a chance to avoid the face-to-face communication, the so called introverts will totally shrink into their virtual world and will become even more pathetic in their normal face-to-face communication. In other words, the quality of human interaction will go even further down (Wakefield &Rice, 2008). The last allegation is that modern communication means lead to the assimilation and disappearance of cultures as the strong cultures tend to swallow the small and regional ones. (Matusitz, 2007).

    Thus, in total, it becomes evident that the modern communication devices have a large number of merits and demerits. However, it is clear that one who uses the modern means of communication with an understanding of their influences is less likely to be affected by their bad effects. To sum up, one can see that technology does not make people bad, it is the way they use it that decides the outcome.

    Janko, A. (2002). “Electronic Communication: The Effects of the Internet and Technology on Enterprise Communication”. Periodica Polytechnica Ser. Soc. Man. Sci, 10, (2), 257-267.
    Kraut, R & Kiesler. (2003). “The Social Impact of Internet Use, Science Briefs”. Psychological Science Agenda. Summer. 8-10.
    Matusitz, J. (2007). “The Implications of the Internet for Human Communication”. Journal of Information Technology Impact, 7, (1), 21-34.
    Wakefield, M. A & Rice, C. J. (2008). “The Impact of Cyber-Communication on Today’s Youth”. American Counseling Association. Professional Counseling Digest, ACAPCD 14, 1-2.
    Assignment 2 Observe and Reflect

    Subject 1: Female at Starbucks Coffee Date: Wednesday May, 25th
    Location: Robson Street
    Situation: Reading newspaper while listening to Ipod
    New Media: iPod Old Media: Newspaper
    1:12 pm- I walk into Starbucks and grab a coffee and sit down. The subject walks in and waits in line at Starbucks to get a coffee
    1:15 pm – When she gets her coffee, she sits down at the table and grabs a newspaper to read
    1:17 pm – While looking through the newspaper, the subject reaches into her purse and takes out her iPod
    1:18 pm – The subject puts on her ipod and turns it on to listen to music
    1:30 pm – The subject continues to look through the newspaper, while listening to music on her iPod
    1:35 pm – The subject puts away the newspaper and walks out of Starbucks, while continuing to listen to her iPod.
    It is quite interesting to me as to why, the things which used to entertain people in the older days, don’t entertain them anymore. For example, people used to sit and read newspapers for hours, and it used to be so occupying and entertaining for them. But now the majority, specially the younger generation, want to always be occupied with a couple of more different tasks or entertainments at the same time. An example would be that now just sitting down and listening to music, is not enough to keep a young one entertained anymore.
    Subject 2: Sanaz, 25 year old female Date: Thursday May 26th
    Location: Coquitlam Movie theatre
    Situation: Using Blackberry while watching a movie
    New Media: BBM on the cell phone Old Media: Movie theatre
    9:00pm- Sanaz comes to the theatre with 15 minutes early and waits in line to buy some popcorn from the concession. While waiting in line she begins to use her Blackberry. She checks her voicemail and then puts her phone away.
    9:10pm- Before the movie started we were having a conversation about how full the theatre was and while we were talking, she was on her phone reading her Blackberry messages.
    9:15pm- Sanaz continues to message as the previews of the movie start. She than puts her cell phone in her purse
    10:00pm- The subject pulls out her cell phone to see if she has any messages and begins to messages again
    11:00pm- As the movie is coming to an end; Sanaz continued to have her cell phone in her lap and would message as she was receiving messages

    What is remarkable for me is the fact that in the old days, people would mostly go to the movies just so they can get away from any distractions, and enjoy their movie in a social way surrounded by friends and other people. Now, most people can’t even sit down and relax and just turn their phone off. I actually find this quite rude, for example I am standing in line talking to this person, and she is on her phone talking to someone else as if my company isn’t good enough, or entertaining enough. Before girls would be so excited to just by guy taking them to the movie, now they won’t even realise that they won’t even enjoy that to the fullest just for the reason of being distracted by dividing their attention in so many other ways than just enjoying the moment and who they are with.

    Subject 3: My Aunt, 56 years old Date: Friday May 27th
    Location: Our house, downtown Vancouver
    Situation: My aunt was skyping with uncle overseas, while watching the news
    New Media: Computer-Skype Old Media: Televison
    10:30 a.m. My aunt turns on the television, and then puts on her favourite show.
    10:35 a.m. While watching her favourite show she turns on her laptop to turn on skype.
    11:30 a.m. She takes the Cable remote, and starts searching for her favourite show while on the laptop.
    12:30p.m. She takes the T.V remote, turns it down, and starts going on Skype again, while still watching a show in low volume.
    1:30p.m. My aunt takes the laptop into the kitchen, turns on the mini T.V. in the kitchen, and starts cooking lunch, while Skyping with my uncle from Iran.

    I would understand that some people might find cooking boring, and for years people have either been turning on the radio, or a TV in their kitchen while cooking. Undoubtedly, if I was my uncle, I would have gotten quite upset. Either talking to my uncle should be more important or her TV show, even though she kept turning the TV down while talking to my uncle, I could see her mumbling at times, because her eye was stuck on the TV trying to figure out what is going on in her show. Even though she thinks she’s saving time by doing both at the same time, the quality of that conversation, and the enjoyment and understanding of her show has gone drastically down. I’m sure my uncle was disappointed, and my aunt didn’t figure out half the things that were going on, on TV. In my opinion if it’s for the purpose of sheer pleasure of enjoyment, people should do each thing at their own time, instead of dividing the attention for two things at once thinking they are enjoying both to the fullest.

    Subject 4: Reza (Me), 26 years old Date: Saturday May 28th
    Location: My living room, downtown Vancouver
    Situation: Listening to the radio while using my laptop to browse the internet, chat and check my email
    New Media: Laptop Old Media: Radio
    2:30 pm- I turn on the stereo in my living room, sit on the couch and turn on my laptop
    2:40 pm- The radio is playing and I begin to talk to a couple of my friends on facebook chat
    3:00 pm- I get up to change the radio station to another station and continue to chat with my friends
    3:15 pm- I open my e-mail and respond to my cousins email from overseas. I slowly start ending my Facebook chats

    3:30 pm- I turn off the laptop to go to the kitchen to make some food. When I go to the kitchen I take the radio and begin cooking.
    Online chatting has made it a-lot easier to keep in contact with the people who you don’t wish to have a full on conversation with, but just want to ask them how they are doing and keep in touch with the to keep them as distant friends or even close acquaintances. For example it would be quite awkward if I called one of my acquaintances and asked them how they are doing. How would I say bye after a minute or two, when I barely have much to say to them. Also by using chat, since people take a little while to answer, not only I can listen to the radio, hear the news and make conversation about it, but I can talk to a few friends I haven’t talked to in awhile at the same time. So I could say this is one of the positive things the new media and technology brings, and it could bundle up to multi tasking at its best. I save so much time by checking my email, catching up with friends, and listening to the radio and the news at the same time, and not just that, I get to make my own breakfast at the same time.

    Subject 5: Male, age unknown Date: Monday May 30th
    Location: SFU classroom downtown
    Situation: While the professor was writing on the board and on the overhead, a classmate was on his laptop typing out the notes
    New Media: Laptop Old Media: Overhead projector
    10:28 am-I walk into the classroom and other students begin to arrive for the 10:30 class
    10:35 am-A male student comes and sits next to me and takes out his laptop from his schoolbag. While waiting for his computer to start up he sends a message on his iPhone
    10:40 am-The subject computer is on and the professor begins his lecture. He turns on the overhead projector and begins talking to the class. While the professor is lecturing he begins to write notes on the overhead. The male sitting next to me, begins typing the notes on his computer
    11:30 am- I look over again and the subject is checking his email while the professor continues with the lecture. The professor begins writing again and the subject quickly starts typing out what is being written on the overhead
    11:45 am- While the professor is talking in class, he quickly goes on his Facebook account, and by the time he switches to Microsoft word, he has fallen behind, so he looks over my notes, and asked me what he just missed, and if it was important.
    12:20 pm- As class comes to an end, the subject saves his notes that he was typing out during the class and closes his laptop and heads to his next class
    As a student who takes his laptop to class, I could comfortably say that being able to take a laptop to class has made a-lot of things easier for me! For example, handwriting used to be so difficult for me, and there was no way that I could keep up with the teachers note taking using a pen, and paper. Now I can quickly search for things if I don’t understand something in class, and I could also take notes and make graphs much faster, and more organized. Also, notes are taken much cleaner, and more pleasant to look at later. The other thing which is a good come outcome from this is that some classes are a bit boring, but having a laptop can at times be a safe place for a student which he or she can escape to and talk with his friends, or surf the net, and with that said there is more motivation for the student to go to class, thinking that he has a backup in case the class is a bit unbearable. So with that said, one negative thing that could come from this is that it could be quite distracting to bring a laptop to class, because there are so many fun things to do and see on the internet, that paying attention in class might at times become the last option.
    Word count: 1701
    Use of old and new media simultaneously
    As people are becoming more and more tech savvy, the use of old and new media simultaneously is increasing. The advent of new media (interactive and digital) has made life a lot easier and interactive. The use of old media and new media simultaneously is increasing rapidly which has both positive and negative effects. Through my research I found many instances where people use both old and new media simultaneously, while some are beneficial and make life easier but others are just a distraction and lead to less accomplishment. For example, my aunt was not gaining as much as she thought she was, while she was watching television, and trying to Skype with my uncle at the same time. My uncle was probably more annoyed than happy to talk to her while she was distracted by watching her favorite TV show at the same time. On the other hand, the day I was checking my email, and chatting with some friends, I actually saved a-lot of time, and gained some points by keeping up to date with some friends, and writing some emails at the same time.
    The digital and interactive media has made it a lot easier for people to stay in touch and especially to connect with people with whom daily interactions are not possible. People now can know what’s happening in an old buddy’s life with the help of interactive media which is not possible through traditional media. Through new media you can chat with your friends with whom a telephonic conversation would not make much sense. But the use of both the media together takes the main idea behind connecting. For example, many people watch TV or read newspapers while they chat with their friends online (Borsch, 2010). Here, the attention is divided between the two. Neither the friend you are chatting with gets your full attention nor the TV program or the news that you are reading. So at the end, you do not exactly know what you read on the paper or what you watched on the TV. Neither did you have a quality conversation with your friend. Hence, the use of both forms of media here is a disaster.
    Movies are a great way to relax and immerse yourself in a whole new world. In the past, movies meant complete disconnect with the real world. Movies were the most enjoyable media for many. But with the advent of mobiles, people now use their mobiles even in theatres distracting themselves and also those around them. This takes away the whole essence of watching a movie in theatre. You pay to enjoy a movie but are distracting yourself by thinking about the message on your mobile. Also it is very annoying for those around you. This is because you are loosing on quality time that you can spend with your loved ones. I remember how upset it made me, and how annoyed and dissatisfied I was when the person I took the movies was on her phone the whole time. I even regretted taking her to the movies. In my head I actually felt that she is telling me in a hidden way that I am not good enough company to be with, and that a simple incoming text message is more entertaining that I am, when in-fact she was just trying to get in touch with her sister, and that she was actually more than happy that she got to go to the movies with me.
    People by using both old and new media at the same time assume that they are getting more done in the same time. This is not always true as it can be seen in the above examples. In most cases, it turns out that you only do not do either of the jobs completely or with full attention. The purpose of new media is to make work easier, effective and entertaining (Chun & Keenan, 2006). But when new and old media is used together, this purpose is not served. For examples, when you read a newspaper and listen to music on your iPod simultaneously you are not doing either one of them with full attention. Finally, it would just be a waste of time.
    There are instances when using both new and old media together can be beneficial and fun. For example, taking a laptop to school is great for a student. While the teacher primarily uses old media while teaching, a student can browse and update himself on the topic by browsing on the laptop. New media also makes class more interesting and fun for the students.Therefore, you must consciously use media to benefit and not to let it actually distract you. There are both advantages and disadvantages, and a conscious effort to make the best use of both the media is now a necessity, and not just a convenience.
    Borsch, S. (2010). Watching Tweevee: Old & New Media Use At The Same Time. [Online]. Available at: Published march 29, 2010. Accessed on June 24, 2011.
    Chun, W.H.K. & Keenan, T. (2006). New media, old media: a history and theory reader. NY: Routledge.
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