June 2007 - Editor's Perspective

A New Generation of TV Babies

I would like to start right off with a confession: My name is Vi and I was a TV baby. Yes, I’m guilty of spending my television viewing hours with the Bradys, the Cunninghams and the Ingalls, as well as Jack, Janet and Chrissy. Just put me on a TV trivia game show and before the host can even say, “Name the episode where…” I’ll be the one rattling off the scene where Marcia gets hit in the nose with a football, or the episode where Davy Jones makes a guest appearance. And, if there’s a lightening round featuring “I Love Lucy” episodes, you can be certain that I’ll recall every scheme that screwball redhead ever concocted with her reluctant sidekick.

Although it’s embarrassing to admit my dubious, yet uncanny, talent for recalling the most obscure TV facts, I must admit that I’m lucky that I was a sitcom junkie at a time when most households had only one television, a rooftop antenna and no remote control (yes, we actually got off the couch and changed a “real” television dial). Now, of course, I also must reveal that my parents were slow to embrace new technology. It seemed like ages before we actually got a VCR-well, at least it was VHS and not BETA.

My parents, however, always knew when to pull back the reins and set strict rules about finishing schoolwork before turning on the tube. Dinners in my house meant family gatherings at the table-no TV dinners allowed.

Why the urge this month to travel down Memory Lane? Well, it really was prompted by a recent E-Poll study I came across entitled “Multi-Platform Viewing of Video Content.” According to the report, there are five additional ways consumers can watch television. And as you might have guessed, the younger audiences are leading the pack, with 26 percent of males age 13 to 34 frequently viewing video on devices other than TV.

The report also reveals that 75 percent view content via a desktop computer; 46 percent view it on a laptop; 16 percent watch on a portable video player; 13 percent catch up on their TV media via an iPod; while another 13 percent watch content right on their cell phones.

In addition, people who view content on their iPods or cell phones will do so just about anywhere, including at school, work, outdoors and even during social functions-primarily in the afternoons and evenings. As if it wasn’t already convenient for them to access content, the study also finds that 13 percent currently transfer video content from their computer to TV.

I suppose if I were a teenager today, I too, would be loving the fact that I always would have access to my favorite programs. From a marketing and advertising perspective, it’s ideal to have so many options for promoting products and services. However, from a parent’s perspective, too much access to TV content could be very harmful in the long run.

Not only does it impact academic performance, but it also threatens to diminish communication between parents and children. While it’s true that the marketer’s goal should be to sell product, there’s a moral and ethical responsibility that must be addressed. After all, we’re all influencing tomorrow’s consumers, but at what price? Do we want young consumers to be ill-informed and uneducated? I’m not saying that we should preach to parents about setting boundaries for their children; however, simply raising the question is a good start.

Vitisia Paynich


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