FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The 36-Hour Day

Between radio, television, phones, movies, video games and the Internet, we are consuming more media than ever before... often all at once. While multitasking is hardly a new phenomenon, recognition is growing that the amount of time we spend immersed in one or more media is steadily increasing -- in effect, lengthening our days.

A survey by Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS) has found that the average American will spend 3,518 hours consuming some kind of media in 2007, up from 3,333 hours in 2000. Predictably, Internet, video games and premium cable TV drove most of that growth; network TV viewing actually declined, while theatre movies and print media remained flat.

According to a study by eMarketer, new media are not necessarily killing old. "Study after study confirms it. People are consuming more media than ever, but they are not dropping one in favor of another," says eMarketer's Debra Aho Williamson. "They are juggling, multitasking and figuring out ways to use a number of media channels at the same time."

Teens are champion multitaskers, even doing homework while online or watching TV. Of course, this level of attention division has all sorts of implications, from possible increased stress levels to less attention given to any one medium. Says Williamson, "With the amount of data building up on the amount of multitasking that is going on, the best strategy may be to assume that attention waxes and wanes during media usage and that full engagement is no longer a realistic expectation."