Media Use Throughout the Generations

What do we mean when we say “Media”.

The term "media" refers to components of the mass media communications industry, such as print media, publishing, the news media, photography, cinema, broadcasting (radio and television), and advertising. With the social media of the internet included in the term nowadays, there is solid argument to be made that even some video games can be considered "media".

However the subject of this article, is the generally accepted media, such as internet, social media, television, radio and the other ways in which people use to get informed about the world around them.

Media through the Generations

Despite the modern use of the term "media" being around since the 1950's media as we know it has been around since before that time. From newspapers, to books, to radio, the way in which people have informed themselves (and entertained themselves) has changed with new technology and the new demands of every generation.

In this simple timetable by timetoast, we can see how media developed rapidly after the 1400's where the Industrial age kicks in, but it goes rather steadily until the 1900 where things basically start to go crazy.

Sutori in their article can be used as great to identify where media started to be more important for our day to day lives. With the dawn of the Industrial revolution, and the written word becoming more available through the printing press and the machinery that started to emerge, Media in the form we think of it today started to emerge. With the electronic age and the creation of the transistor the entire media game shifted. From radio and the newspaper being the sole media outlet for people to get informed, as the new age came in, the introduction of home televisions changed the game and paved the way to the future.

That brings us to now, the age of information, a fitting title if you ask me. With the introduction of personal computers, smartphones and the internet has changed the landscape entirely. Now that we are all caught up on history, lets move on. For those of you that wish to know more about the timelines, there are plenty of other articles you can find.

How Each Generation Shapes Media

Disclaimer: This part is greatly speculative. 

Most article around always seem to point on how the Media affect each generation, however the more I read about the history of Media and various charts, it was  this one article by Bussiness2Community that led me to discussing how each generation shapes its own Media.

Let us be absolutely cynical here, despite its initial goal to inform and perhaps entertain, Media has become an industry, of various companies competing on which one is going to have most people's eyes, ears and trust. We see this from the way TV Channels are competing on having "the most accurate news".


As I was reading articles about how each generation uses media during the coronavirus, especially this one from visualcapitalist, it is clear that each generation has a preference to the social media of it's choice. With numerous articles and an entire wikipedia page dedicated to how the media has been used for propaganda, it is safe to assume that Media is more fluid than it seems.

During the era of the cold war, the generation of people, growing up amid a political powder keg have the media shift to fit the various agendas present at the time. From propaganda, to subtle commentary, media always seemed to shift to match the people it was meant to be used by.

That is especially true today. Media tries to do it's best to attract each generation. For example the current generation, which focuses more on things such as internet privacy than the generations before it, as stated in the Bussiness 2 Community's article has made apps such as Whisper, Secret, or Snapchat extremely popular because they allow users to send messages, pictures, and videos that will “disappear” soon after they are sent.

After all, as every generation will bring forth their own needs and wants, the media will shift to reflect that.

How Media shape each generation.

Perhaps a trickier subject matter, it is well documented and generally accepted that media has influenced each generation as much as it has been influenced by it. From propaganda media, not only being a product of their respective generations, but playing a heavy hand in influence the opinion of the populace, to today's rampart consumerism having effects on modern day society. A simple google search can showcase the sheer volume of research that has been done to link how media has influenced each generation, from ties to possible effects on children to articles directly tying our well being to it.

And herein lies the problem. Though propaganda media is very easy to study in a WW2 or Cold War era, if you want to demonstrate just how much an impact media can have on an entire generation, today's scene is much more complex. With the Internet giving everyone a voice, and I -mean- everyone, one can very accurately argue that the freedom in which information is shared makes the modern era of the Internet a more "safe" one when it comes to what impact it has.

After all, since the Internet is so free, then surely you are responsible for your own media, and as such are not as much influenced by them as previous generations do right? I would have to say, wrong. As a matter of fact, a recent study by Forbes actually point out that the political engagement and involvement is in fact greatly influenced by social media. Furthermore, the SOPA and PIPA initiatives that went on a while back, only prove that governments are not entirely keen on leaving the Internet be the "wild and free" tool that we might wish to argue for.

On the contrary, as a matter of fact, it is well known that certain countries in fact, regulate the Internet that is available to their people. As such, I would say that the modern Media scene, requires more care than previous generations, despite its abundance of options. Simply put, on one corner you have an enormous amount of unfiltered information, fake news, half truths and personal opinions masked as fact, and on the other hand you have a more subtle and intricate way in which the information is filtered to you. After all, if it's on the Internet it must be true right?

What does the future hold?

Well, in my humble opinion, we are going to see a lot of changes in the media landscape. Even as millennials we have seen first hand how swiftly tech can lead to how media changes. We spent our childhood years with television and the first consoles, then it passed to the computer and social media at the early stages of the internet, and now we have seen how the Internet has taken over almost our entire culture. I am fully convinced that the trend will continue, with each generation playing a tug of war with Media over how much one changes the other.

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