Karen, Kason, Man, Winnie: Week 11 "Generational difference among different media"

Study: "The media usage difference between our parents and generation Y"

Many media theorists claimed that technology is an essential external force of the social changes, and people are all moved by the technologies elements. In other words, the society is transformed based on the technical advances rather than cultural changes in any community. At the very beginning of the human communication, people could only express their messages to others with spoken languages and later on, graphics. After the invention of the woodblock printing tactic in 220, people had another channel to communicate with others and even spread their ideas widely. Afterwards, the technicians and scientists devoted to contrive more and more media to improve human’s life in terms of communication. Then, there were telephone, radio, television, and, later, computer existing in human history in specific periods of time. Some scholars indicated that the presence of any new technology will penetrate into the society and cultivate people’s habits and culture practices, and thus, form into media usage. Briefly, people in different generations have made use of existing technologies with different usage patterns, just like our parents and us. Let’s discuss that in the following and examine the reasons of that.

Hong Kong people fifty years ago lived in a primitive lifestyle. Most Hong Kong families have very little money; children in these poor families either play on the street, or work as a “child worker” in factories to earn money for their families. In those years, people are more likely to acquire news from radio and television. And for the leisure time, they went to watch films or dated in the countryside. In 1970, the Hong Kong Government carried out many policies actively. Almost every family in the 4 million population owned one set of television. The information spread out due to the high usage of television made Hong Kong people more willing to learn different knowledge or news from all over the world.

Few years later, the Hong Kong population became youth-oriented, with their lifestyles affected a lot by the Western culture. And one very important policy carried out by the Hong Kong Government is a nine years free education program. People tended to advance learning English. In virtue of the policy, children have the right to go to school; television cooperated with the Education Bureau Department, and produced the ETV (educating television programs) for the junior students. Thus, television was more commonly used by the Hong Kong people at that age. In a later stage, with the Western movies and music trending up, popular artists and bands (such as Wynners 溫拿樂隊) showed up in different magazines. People also love to read the gossips and celebrities interviews in the magazines, too.

We found that our parents in our age used television and radio most commonly. The reason is roughly because of the development of the Hong Kong economy, and the abundant resources shared. Most of the Hong Kong people worked in the manufacturing industry in that century. They worked in factories; therefore, they often listen to the radio for music and news while working. Moreover, our mothers at our age are probably already married, thus, they spent most of their time at home, doing house chores and taking care of the family.

Besides, our parents had very little leisure activities during their holidays. Hence, they tend to watch television (which has sounds and visuals) that allowed them to watch fashion shows, TV programs, wrestling competitions, or dance performance etc.—a medium that is more entertaining than other media at that time.

Nowadays, we tend to rely on the television and the Internet heavily. While the television has become a part of our daily lives, its importance seems to be overshadowed by the Internet. The Internet can be referred to as a “revolution” of media, because not only can we watch reruns of TV shows online for entertainment, we can also gain information of current events and watch old news programs. We can even chat and webcam with our favorite celebrities online, with immediate responses. With more and more companies and advertisers turning to the Internet as a medium for business and interactivity, youngsters nowadays enjoy more and more entertainment from the Internet. One perfect example is Youtube and Facebook.

Meanwhile, in the communication aspect, most of us automatically turn to the Internet to “find our friends” instead of the phone, for example, using the Windows Live Messenger program, which allows us to chat with our peers. Only if our friends are “offline” do we then choose to dial our friends’ numbers. Even so, we may choose to text our friends an “SMS” message instead of actually calling the friend. So, it is no wonder that researchers claim that youngsters today are seen having more communication problems, for example, the “train boy” phenomenon.

As for radio, which is the most frequently used media back in our parents’ generation, it has been less in used in generation Y. This may be due to the fact that the radio only has audio, but no visual. Since we are so used to having both audio and visual, as well as interactivity, the radio has become a less mainstream medium in our generation.

The generational difference occurs because of the technological advancement. It is the key element in triggering the change in media usage. The emergence of Internet provides a multi-functional platform for the general publics. In the past, various media platforms were independently separated. As TV was more entertained, it became a more popular platform for the people, including our parents. But now, we can use our computer to access the Internet. Afterwards, we can conveniently gather information from different types of media. For instance, our computer allows us to watch television, listen to radio, and read newspaper online at the same time. Our computer becomes a multi-functional mechanism for combining all the media and entertainment. As technology improves, our usage on the improved media is affected. From a previous stage in which our parents used multiple media for entertainment and information, to the current stage in which we could use a single medium for the same things, technology has greatly deepened our generation gap between our parents and us.


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