Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

ISSN: 2165-7912

Open Access

The Rumors of Television's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: What the Data Say about the Future of Television Content in a Child's Digital World


Jack Powers and George Comstock

There has been a great deal of controversy and speculation about the impact of the Internet and related digital media on traditional media, particularly television. Some have predicted—and sometimes purport to have discovered—a sharp decline in use of traditional media in general and television viewing in particular. Obviously, confirmation of the future awaits the passage of time. However, data of excellent quality and undeniable pertinence exist that identify the likely future pattern. Three representative national surveys of 8-18 year olds-- each about five years apart-- report on comprehensive media use in the United States. At the time of the first (1999), Internet use was well underway. By the time of the second (2004), Internet use had reached a high state of development, and by the time of the third (2009), wireless broadband was widely available for use in handheld devices, tablet computers, and portable laptops. Between 1999 and 2009, time spent on the Internet more than tripled (3.6x) and new uses, not significant at the time of the first survey, appeared by the second and third surveys. However, traditional media— screen, audio, print—did not see the drastic decreases many had expected. Instead, total time devoted to television content increased considerably, but real differences in how that content is being accessed have emerged.


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