Media is all around us. It's not only the television, radio, and billboards that we see every day, it is also the smart phones, Kindles, and iPads that are constantly in use. In a society where even the youngest of children now own and operate iPods and iPads, it is important to consider how exposure to these types of devices and visual stimulation is shaping our society. Working to help people understand how media exposure effects their lives, a company called Media Talk 101 has created a DVD movie titled Captivated. I was fortunate enough to receive a free copy of this DVD in exchange for an honest review on this blog.
Folks find it weird that we don't watch any television. Most want to know why and are expecting a "deeper" answer than "We just don't have time." Michael and I never made it a habit in our relationship to watch television. As a result, those time slots filled up with other activities. Even when we want to sit down and watch a show, it is almost impossible for us to devote the time to it.
That's where our weirdness ends. We have definitely become a "plugged-in" family. We don't own any video game consoles, but all the boys have kindles, two of the boys have iPods, we own an iPad and I have a smart phone. Do we like to play on these devices? Heck yeah!
Having had this personal experience with these types of devices, what I viewed on the Captivated DVD only further confirmed my beliefs. These types of electronic experiences can have educational and spiritual value, but quickly become abused and damaging. A friend told me about a study in which 33% of people who gave up something for Lent this year, gave up electronics. 33% !!!
We haven't owned these devices very long, but the change is apparent. The kids crave the time they get to spend on them. They sometimes cry when they are denied a turn. They are addicted. And it is not just them. All their friends have various devices. They are at every gathering and seem to be in every home.And as I stated above, it is not just about the electronics. Media is everywhere in our world, encouraging us to endorse a certain product and believe a certain thought. Now even non-electronic toys come with endorsements!
In graduate school I wrote my thesis on the effects of television viewing in children under 3 years of age. Many of the same things I studied back then are presented in this video, but the results are much more staggering, and the age range a lot wider. But the video is much more than research facts. Although you have researchers from top universities presenting data from about how electronics can slow brain development, you also have parents are talking about how their own children were effected by addicting electronics. Children with behavior issues that were reversed when their electronic stimulation was cut off. Marriages and relationships that were restored. Meaning and a sense of peace returned to the lives of many people.
There is something simple and appealing about a life without electronics. But that is not the way our society is headed. We are a "plugged in" culture and if you choose to not conform, you could soon feel left behind. Captivated doesn't suggest you to quit cold turkey and never look back. But it does give very convincing reasons to examine your relationship with your electronics and your media exposure and decide who is the boss of those relationships.
I was recently at a conference with several friends and the "media culture" topic came up on our nine-hour long car ride. I was very pleased to be able to share much of the data I learned from the Captivated DVD with my friends. They all now plan to borrow or purchase the DVD for personal viewing.
Captivated is intended for an adult audience, although I would say that teenage children could watch it as well. James (age 11) was in the room while I viewed the video, and although he didn't sit and watch it with me, he heard parts of it and we were able to discuss themes based on his electronic usage. I was so grateful to be able to have an informed discussion with him on this, instead of just saying, "Get off that thing because I am the mom and I know it's bad!" Captivated gave me the 'keys' to talk with others (including my own children) about something I already knew should be limited in use.
Still undecided if this DVD is right for you? Other members of The Schoolhouse Review Crew got to enjoy this DVD as well and wrote about it on The Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog. Head over to The Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog here or by clicking the image below: