02 Media



Key Information About an Age of Information Overload


“Where Did You Learn That?”

In just a single day on the internet, two million blog posts are written, 860,000 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded, and five billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook. It’s difficult to ignore the increasing amount of content— and platforms—vying for our attention. So where exactly do Americans go to learn something new or to get new information in the digital age?

By far the most common media source for new information is the web. Six out of 10 (61%) American adults use an internet website daily or more often (this includes “at least daily,” “a few times each day,” and “ongoing throughout the day”) to learn something new. Around half go to their mobile or smartphone (52%), or head to social media sites like Facebook or Twitter (49%). So the web—internet sites, social media, and smartphones—appears to be the most common destination for acquiring new information.

Even in a cyber age, television still remains hugely popular as a source of knowledge. Half of all American adults watch cable TV (50%) or network TV (49%) daily or more. Though more adults use the web throughout the day (27%) compared to network or cable TV (18%), the overall numbers of daily use are comparable.

Radio and newspapers do not enjoy the popularity of TV or the web, but they remain fairly common with almost four in 10 (37%) adults listening to the radio, and almost three in 10 (28%) reading the newspaper daily or more. The least common daily media sources for new information are books (17%), magazines (12%), and ebooks (9%). Though less common as a daily source, books and magazines have the highest proportion of users when it comes to monthly use (19% for both). Although people aren’t reading books or magazines daily, they still constitute a portion of their monthly routine.

How Do You Use Each Form of Media


Digital Devices Make Porn Prolific (and Personal)

Compared to 150 years ago, porn’s 21stcentury iteration is more complex. For one thing, ease of access has never been greater—a fact mostly attributable to the explosive growth and widespread dissemination of new communication technologies during the past two decades.

A Barna study in partnership with Josh McDowell Ministry shows that the proliferation of high-speed internet and internet-enabled devices has fundamentally altered the ways people view and interact with pornography. These technological realities have “indiscriminately allowed people of all ages to encounter and consume sexually explicit content,” Sean McDowell says. The web has by far eclipsed all other avenues for accessing pornography. Among those who report having viewed porn, seven out of 10 adults (71%) and 85 percent of teens and young adults have done so using online videos. Six in 10 adults (59%) and two-thirds of teens and young adults (65%) view porn mostly online. Magazines and video rentals are passé.

Smartphones offer new and dynamic means of accessing and distributing pornography. Apps and text are an increasingly popular option, especially among teens and young adults. While just 12 percent of adults 25 and older view porn mostly on their phone, teens and young adults are three times more likely to do so (38%).

The proliferation of digital tools has blurred the lines between porn producers, distributors, and consumers. The affordability of video equipment and the abundance of user-friendly online platforms and services have allowed consumers to become producers, creating and distributing their own pornography.

The historically passive consumer has evolved into today’s active producer—a result not only of changing technology, but also of shifting social norms of self-expression. Blogging, online dating, text messaging, and social media have become vehicles of “oversharing” in the internet age, a phenomenon that muddles the boundary between public and private life and has had a profound impact on the shape of pornography today.

The Ways People View Porn, By Age


How Women Use Social Media

How Women Use Social MediaHow Women Use Social Media2

A Q&A about Digital Overwhelm

with Claire Díaz-Ortiz

Claire Díaz-Ortiz is an author, speaker, and technology innovator who has been named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. She was an early employee at Twitter, where she was hired to lead corporate social innovation. Her books include Twitter for Good and the Barna FRAME Greater Expectations.

Barna Takes: The Complications of Being Connected


The explosive growth of digital technology and mobile devices has fundamentally altered the way we communicate and engage with each other. Social media sites mediate our online presence and set new rules for digital interactions. But the question remains: Has social media made our lives better or worse?

The raison d’être of social media is connection. This is the primary function of sites like Facebook, and the tagline confirms it: “Connect with friends and the world around you on Facebook.” So it comes as no surprise that connecting with friends and family is a primary motivation and outcome of using social media. In two different studies, Barna found that most parents (54%) feel more connected to friends and family, and eight in 10 women (81%) report feeling connected to friends through social media.

Though it appears people are experiencing social media in mostly positive ways, it also has its downsides. People can become absorbed with comparison (which can affect mood and selfesteem) or checking accounts incessantly; half of women check their social media either first thing in the morning (50%) or right before going to bed (46%). Connections established or maintained online can also be fraught with complications; you’re likely well aware of how social media can create a false sense of intimacy. This is not to mention the reality of cyber-bullying and harassment made possible through these new digital means.

As social media’s influence expands, so do its gray areas. Businesses are taking advantage of social media by making their presence known in digital spaces where their customers spend time. Issues of privacy remain central here, especially with the use of metadata for targeted advertising or the real dangers of exposure in the age of oversharing. Political movements and candidates are also leveraging their social media platforms in unprecedented ways.

However, throughout our research on social media and technology, the clearest concern so far relates to time-wasting and distraction. Wasting time (42%) and being more distracted (40%) are the main reasons why technology and social media have made the lives of parents more difficult, and among women, the greatest negative impact of social media is wasting time (38%). This becomes a real issue of productivity in the workplace.

The potential of social media is endless, and we are—for the most part—experiencing it in positive ways. Still, we must be proactive in the days to come by speaking to both the challenges of social media and its redemptive possibilities.


Exploring the Digital Family Dynamic

Provides a framework for tough questions like

  • What are some important family values to embrace in the digital age?
  • Does our use of technology move us closer to the values we’ve embraced?
  • Are familial relationships suffering as a result of technology’s distractions?
  • Has “real life” taken a backseat to virtual life?

Making wise choices about technology in the context of family is more than just setting internet filters and screen time limits for children. It’s about developing wisdom, character, and courage in the way we use digital media, rather than accepting technology’s promises of ease, instant gratification, and the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. And that’s true for everyone in the family, not just the kids. Drawing on in-depth original research from Barna, Andy Crouch (executive editor of Christianity Today and the author of Playing God and Culture Making) shows how the choices we make about technology have consequences we may never have considered. For anyone who has felt their family relationships suffer or their time slip away amid technology’s distractions, this book will provide a path forward to reclaiming “real” life in a world of digital devices.

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