The small screen is winning out over the big ones in the growing battle for people’s attention.
That’s according to Nielsen's inaugural “Comparable Metrics” report. Data provided to The Associated Press showed a 26 percent increase in May in the number of 18- to 34-year-olds who used a smartphone, tablet or TV-connected device like a streaming box or game console compared with a year earlier. It was up an average of 8.5 million people per minute.
In comparison, the number of those in the same age group who watched television, listened to radio or used a computer fell 8 percent in the same period to 16.7 million people per minute. The audience for TV viewing fell 10 percent to 8.4 million people a minute in the 18 to 34-age category.
Nielsen’s Comparable Metrics for the first time enables people to directly compare apples to apples how people are spending their time with various media devices.
The shift to the small screen is significant because it shows a declining willingness among people to consume media from the same mass-produced buckets. It also shows a further fracturing of the audience, which also will increase the splintering of advertising dollars among the many media companies.
Advertisers have traditionally chased after younger audiences.
But lost in the ratings and measurements is the dwindling appeal of books, magazines and newspapers among U.S. consumers. They prompt people to think versus television and the small screens that are designed to make people feel something and act impulsively.
The fall-off in social capital and the media that get people to think has been continuous and huge.
What’s also vanishing is the desire for more face-to-face time that people might seek with others. Go to any restaurant, bar, commuter bus, plane, train or other place where people — particularly millennials — are in groups and count the number of folks glued to their little screens.
It is a disturbing development that will continue to increase. That’s not good when people working in groups is how things get done and how people learn best how to read and express themselves in body language and get along with others.
The further separation of folks from one another — even with the dwindling consumption of a common mass media — will only lessen the ties people have with others and further the alienation and inclination toward courser and increasingly disruptive encounters when face-to-face moments do occur.
Perhaps this is why elected officials throughout the United States are liberalizing gun laws so that open carry without training or permits in some states is becoming more the rule than an unthinkable thing in what once was a civil society.