Week 11: The Generational Difference in Media Usage (Ming and Jackie)


My dad was born in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in 1954, to a mother and father whose parents had all immigrated to the United States from Ireland and Wales. When he was five his parents and brothers moved to Seaford, Long Island, where they lived in a stereotypically sleepy, suburban neighborhood. My father grew up on a block of identical houses built right after World War II. Each house was a slightly different color, with a backyard, driveway, and front lawn. During his childhood he amused himself with sports and games he played with his three brothers.

My father remembers a television being an integral part of his childhood early on, from at least the age of eight. He was never allowed to watch it as much as he would have liked because my grandfather was very cynical and derisive of the device in general and referred to it as the “boob tube.” However, when my dad was allowed to watch it he recalls watching shows that he liked, such as “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Mod Squad.” When he was around my age, he remembers watching a lot of his favorite television show, “M*A*S*H.” Although he mostly listened to the radio as a child to hear his favorite baseball games, he later on watched TV more often to see his favorite baseball and football teams.

I can tell that the radio had a huge influence on my father’s life; he still listens to his favorite talk shows to this day, and falls asleep listening to the radio at night. My father said he clearly remembers what it was like to hear the Beatles first play when he was about nine or ten years old, but he also remembers watching them in black and white on television, playing a sold-out, frenzied concert at Shea Stadium in 1965. I grew up listening to the radio in the car, but unlike my father, the television played a much bigger role in my childhood than it did in his, and I rarely listen to the radio anymore, except for certain programs on National Public Radio. However, even those tend to be on podcasts and not when they are broadcasted on an actual radio.


My parents grew up in a very different setting than I. They both grew up in mainland China, whereas I was born and raised in New York City. During the 1970s and 1980s, my parents relied mostly on radio and print media to learn about what was going on in the world. Television was also a growing media at the time, but because it was not as easily accessible for my parents, it did not play much of a role in their lives. My father still, to this day, very rarely watches television.

My media usage both growing up and now, however, differs so enormously from my parents when they were my age. I grew up with the television being an important part of my life; I watched hours of cartoons every Saturday morning, and received much of my earlier education from shows such as Barney and Sesame Street. Having grown up in an electronic age, it is not surprising that I now rely mostly on the Internet and television for news. I do listen to the radio at times, but even then, I often stream it from the Internet or download podcasts through iTunes.

None of the media sources that I use now were available to my parents when they were my age, and I feel lucky to have such technologies. Although my parents both know how to use the Internet, neither of them use it to the extent that I do. They do not rely on online versions of newspapers like I do—my father reads Chinese print newspapers, and my mother watches the news on television or reads the free newspapers that are handed out on a daily basis in the New York City subway. My parents have an attachment to print newspapers because it is what they grew up with, even though to me, using the Internet seems so much more convenient.


The difference between me and my parents ( By Ann,Ivan and Cherry)

It’s really an interesting topic. After the interview, not only can I have better understanding about my parent’s childhood, but also have a deep conservation between me and my parents. My main interviewee is my father; he told me that when he was 20, the largest entertainment for him was watching television. Television programs at that time were just broadcasted a few hours a day, and only had black and white pictures. At the time, television was an unusual entertainment because not all family can afford to buy a television. Fortunately, his home got a television, so he can enjoy some TV dramas every evening. As I mention that, not every family can buy a television, so his neighbor’s children will come to his home to enjoy the TV drama every night. Because of the “ask for television activity” everyday, he can met his neighbors and understand them more easily. Apart from the television, radio was also the favorite media for his childhood. Most of the international news were come from the radio and he can reach everywhere around the world just sat before the radio. Also, he loved listening certain radio show host or DJ program, but the timeframe was subject to the broadcasting schedule. It was inconvenient for him to stay at home every day at the same time to listen to the radio, so he always cannot finish the whole story of the radio show.

When I asked him, were there any telephone and newspaper for you? The answer is NO! It’s unbelievable. How come there was no telephone on the world. Unfortunately, the truth is that. Even you can afford the price of telephone, but the other side you want to talk to cannot afford it, that means useless. When he was 20, the cheapest way to get information was from the people. Most of the news was come from his schoolmates and neighbors. However, the authenticity and the extensity of the news were low, so he always got fake news from his neighbors.

Nowadays, internet and television are my favorite. I seldom listen to radio. I can easily watch the TV program at anywhere. I do not need to go to my friend’s home to ask for television. Even though I missed the TV program, I can use the internet to search it out easily. There is no more restriction due to the broadcasting schedule. Also, everyone have a mobile phone. I can talk to my friend even she is on the other side of the world every time and everywhere. Not only can I hear her voice, but I can also see her face. What I need is just open the webcam on my computer. After the interview with my father, I really cannot understand how he can live without internet and telephone. But I admit that the “ask for television activity” really can strengthen the relationship between people. That’s why he still has contact with his neighbors now. This is what modern teenagers lacking of. That’s the reason why many people said that the teenagers who are called “after 80” are self centered. Because they can do everything just before their computers so that they will not go out and indulge in their own world. Everything has two sides. Technology can help us to interact with others easily in a virtual way, but it will also make us do not know how to communicate with others in person. However, if I can have a chance to choose, I will still choose live in now. It is because I cannot live without telephone.

Week 11 - Janice, Karen, Vanessa & Yannie

Generational difference in media usage:
youngsters in 1960's VS youngsters in 2000's

According to the technological determinism suggested by Marshall McLuhan, different modes of communication cause a cultural change and shape human life. As we are living in the computer-mediated culture, our current access to various media is certainly different to that of my parents’ generation in 1960-70s. Living in a global village, people can share the latest information via the internet simultaneously anytime. As students, we obtain the updated knowledge for our academic school work or simply for our interests and curiosity towards some specific issues, we, therefore, always surf the net to gather some relevant information, books and other credible print materials like newspapers and academic publications, are also the media we frequently access to. Whenever we have to conduct an academic research, we rely on books most in order to look for credible supporting statements and references.

On the contrary, whenever we want to have entertainment, being local youngsters, reading books or glossy magazines, listening to the radio, watching TV and going for movies in theaters are our common leisure. Although we can get lots of information while we are undergoing the above leisure activities, to entertain is our leading purpose of the access to those media. In the meantime, as the internet can provide us with entertainment where we may enjoy abundant pieces of music, songs, movies, books and even news for free, we may fulfill our different desires through the same media, disregarding that all the entertainment is the on-line form. In overview, we would suggest that the proportion of our current access to the print media (books, magazines and newspapers), to the electronic media (radio and TV), and the internet is 3: 2: 5.

From our knowledge after conducting some informal interviews with our parents, we would say that our parents’ media use at the young ages, 1960 -70s, was totally different from ours. As it had not developed into the computer-mediated stage at the time when our parents were young, our parents did not have the opportunity to access to computers, not to mention the internet. Thus, comparing to our daily life, our parents spent rather a lot more time in reading books, newspapers and listening to the radio for acquiring knowledge and entertainment. Some of them might even have the access to TV programs. In overview, we would comment that the proportion of their previous access to the print media to the electronic media was 7 : 3, excluding the computer and internet use. Apparently, there is a huge difference between our daily lives and our parents’ when they were young. We would like to hereby share some of the interesting findings of our parents’ media usage below.

In the 60s when Yannie’s mum was young, she liked watching TV. However, she didn’t have television at home, so when she wanted to watch TV, she had to go to some stores where there was an installed television. Yet, she had to pay for it as an entertainment. At first, it cost HK $5 cents and HK $20 cents the most later. She usually went there with her siblings or neighbors. It was just like going for movies nowadays. Watching TV was always a social activity for her at that time. And later, she met some friends who had a TV at home. Therefore, she could go to their flats and watched TV for free.

Years later, she was happy to have a black and white TV at home. It was because my mum was a fisher and lived on boats, the TV had to be connected to a small generator or a big battery which had been charged at some stores. There was an aerial in the TV and you had to tune it to receive signals. She was so excited whenever the TV received signals successfully. One day in the 70s, her family finally had a color TV. She enjoyed the time when the whole family sat together watching TV. Her favorite TV program was “EYT” (Enjoy yourself Tonight-歡樂今宵).

Besides watching TV, she liked listening to the radio too. She listened to some specific programs which were about current affairs or controversies, such as “18/F Block C” (十八樓C座) and some programs about ghost stories. Also, it was the only channel for her to obtain news. Anyway, the ‘news’, to her, was weather reports. At that time, there was not much international news available. People did not care so much of international news. As a fisher at that time, what she cared most was the climate and weather. She said there were many advertisements too. Many advertisements talked about the price of different kinds of products. Furthermore, she could listen to some local and foreign songs when listened to the radio, such as Elvis Presley’s songs.

Nowadays, at the 21st century, technological innovation has changed the face of media. ‘Developers are beginning to fuse telephone, television, fax, stereo, digital video, and computer into a single media center.’ It’s definitely true. Imagine what your mobile ‘phone’ can do. Of cause, you can call in and out with your mobile ‘phone’. But what’s more? You can listen to radio, listen to music, take photos and videos, and even watch TV. You can even do much more, such as reading news, checking and sending emails, surfing the internet if your mobile phones can go online.

In the case of Vanessa’ Dad, his favorite medium was the radio. He is a music lover and likes to listen to various kinds of music. Apart from watching some famous artists’ or bands’ performance like those of Sam Hui (許冠傑) and Wynners (溫拿樂隊) on TV, he was fond of being exposed to the western music through the radio. Uncle Ray’s radio program is one of his favorites as Uncle Ray kept broadcasting foreign pop songs on RTHK. ABBA, the Eagles and the Carpenters are some of his favorite western bands in his old days. Apparently, radio and TV are the leading media. People were just ‘fed’ by them. But now, we no longer solely rely on the radio and TV, in this computer-mediated century, we mainly rely on the internet. Once we search on the Internet, we can easily obtain lots of information about the latest songs, the most famous singers and works. We can get to know about the latest music trends and activities whenever we want via the internet. Hence, approaches and time to reach the world via the media are two major differences between us and our parents.

Moreover, comparing to our parents’ generation, the media usage has become more interactive nowadays. In the past, it was a one-way feeding communication done by the mass media. Today, we may lead the mass media as a reverse. For instance, when people upload a video clip onto Youtube and it will receive many hits if it interests the public. Because of netizens’ heavy likeliness, it may even appear on newspapers, TV and others media as a piece of soft “news”. Take the case of the Taiwanese, Lin Yu Chun, who sang “I will always love you” on a Taiwanese talent show as an example. His voice is great. Yet, no one would know about him if no one uploaded the video clips onto Youtube. Now, everyone worldwide can listen to his voice on the internet and because of the frequent hits, he has become a hot issue in many top shows worldwide and many mass media, such as ABC, BBC. The boy was even interviewed by Thompson Reuters. Nowadays, mass media is no longer the only parties which bring different music and news to audiences. Audiences can also become influential parties who bring start sharing and direct mass media. In other words, “one-way feeding” and ‘one-to-many’ are not appropriate enough to describe the current communication mode, but ‘many-to-many’.

In addition, because of the different media usage, our social behaviors have also been changed. Told by Yannie’s Mum, she often watched TV with her family members or friends in the past. But now, we seldom seriously sit in front of the TV and watch those programs because we may go online and select our own favorite TV programs or videos. Going to cinemas, to us and our parents, it still is a common and popular kind of leisure. Yet, we may watch movies on the internet as well. Hence, it is not a strong and frequent social activity for us when compared to our parents.

More significantly, media usage can go beyond our expectation and indirectly influence one’s life. Before the advent of the interactive internet, people made friends directly in person and through current friends’ referral. Today, you can simply make “friends” with whoever you are interested in through the function of Facebook. Much earlier than Facebook, MSN and even ICQ are popular online communication tools for people to connect with others and to meet new strangers. We may make new “friends” via those instant messengers even we have no idea about each others’ real identity. Some of our friends are even dating with someone whom they had never met in real person before. This phenomenon is not rare at all nowadays but if it happened in our parents’ generation, it might be heavily criticized as ridiculous. Back to earlier than our parents’ generation, Vanessa’ grandma and grandpa’s marriage also began with the help of a radio. When they were young, they stayed in a corridor in the public estate where they lived in when they were young. Every evening, they listened to the same radio program and discussed about the contents of the program. It was the beginning of their story. Likewise, media usage has kept influencing us, but just in different aspects and by different means.

For sure, technology innovation may increase the chances of connecting others as we have Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, blogs and other applications to share everything with the world interactively. It seems that we connect with each others with no distance in the age of Web 2.0. It seems that we are very close to each others as we can enjoy same songs, same TV programs and open conversations about similar topics or issues acquired from the mass media. However, are we really getting closer and closer while technology is getting more and more advanced? It is not absolute.


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.