Opting in and Opting Out of Media

Authored by: Bonnie Brennen

The Routledge Handbook of Developments in Digital Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138283053
eBook ISBN: 9781315270449
Adobe ISBN:


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On April 9, 2017, 60 Minutes broadcast a story on brain hacking, which is the notion that our phones, social media, and apps are being designed to program us. During the report, Anderson Cooper (2017) interviewed Silicon Valley insiders who suggested that the constant stream of distractions have been engineered to create addictive behavior. These distractions are shaping our feelings, thoughts, and actions, weakening our relationships and ruining our children’s ability to concentrate and focus. The story highlighted researchers who suggested that our smartphones now keep us in a continuous state of anxiety where we feel the need to constantly touch them, check them, and interact with them. Habit-breaking apps are being designed, but ultimately the program suggested that in order to break our digital technology habit that we need to limit our use and take time away from new media. The 60 Minutes report represents a growing trend of questioning the impact of digital technology. It is a trend that contradicts a prevailing norm in the United States that everyone should embrace new technologies and that people must have full access to digital media so that they can obtain information necessary to function in a democratic society.

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