The Household Diaries – The Brooks

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Family Profile

Subject 1 | Male | Age 55

Subject 1’s media use involves his iPhone and iPod. His phone is used primarily for work and general communication and he uses his iPod when he goes for runs. He doesn’t spend a lot of time in front of the TV unless there’s sport on or during dinner time. He is the main user of the family computer, used to check emails and play solitaire in free time.

Subject 2 | Female | Age 52 

Subject 2 watches a lot more TV, particularly during the day. She also owns an iPhone in which she uses for messaging, calls and social media, as well as her iPad which she uses to plays games in free time.

Subject 3 | Female | Age 24

Subject 3 uses her phone a lot for social media and messaging. She also owns a laptop, mainly used for study and work purposes as well as Netflix. Although she owns an iPad, she rarely uses it anyone as most of it’s functions are available on either her phone or laptop. She uses an iPod when she exercises and she rarely watches her TV as most of her favourite shows are available on to watch on Netflix/her laptop.

Subject 4 | Female | Age 21

Subject 4 owns an iPhone, iPad, laptop, TV and iPod. She is another big media user in the household. Her phone is primarily used for social media apps such as Snapchat, instagram and Facebook and is regularly messaging and chatting online. Her laptop is used for study purposes and Netflix in which she connects to her TV to watch on a bigger screen.

Subject 5 | Male | Age 15

Subject 5 is the biggest media user in the household. He spends most of his time talking/playing online with friends on his Xbox and rarely leaves his room from the time he gets home from school until bed time. He uses his phone occasionally, but prefers to communicate with friends over the xbox. He also owns a laptop for school and homework purposes and a tablet to watch youtube videos of the games he plays. Similar to subject 1, he only watches TV when eating dinner or if there is a sports event on.

The Impact on Family Engagement

The household communicates a lot via media instead of actually talking face to face. For example, subject 3 describes she will usually get a phone call from another family member letting her know dinner is ready, or she will send a message to ask a question, even they are only a couple rooms away. Most nights the family will watch tv together during dinner but subject 3 admits they will also be on their phones at the same time, then they will move into their own rooms to watch/do something else they’d prefer.

Acknowledgements

Brooks 2016, pers. comm., 25 October

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The Household Diaries – The Housemates

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Family Profile

Subject 1 | Female | Age 22 

Subject 1 is currently a university student and owns an iPhone, iPad and laptop. She is the biggest media user in the house partly due to her area of study – marketing and PR – requiring a lot of digital media work on her devices. For leisure purposes she is on social media quite often.

Subject 2 | Female | Age 22 

Subject 2 uses media mostly for social purposes on devices such as her iPhone, iPad and laptop. As she currently has family overseas, she uses her laptop often for Skype, as well as Facebook group messages to keep in touch.

Subject 3 | Female | Age 23 

Subject 3 is also a university student and primarily uses her laptop for study and work including assessments and checking emails. She also owns an iPhone used for social purposes such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat and her own TV, however watches the shared TV more often with her housemates.

The Impact on Family Engagement

Due to their varying schedules during the week, media brings them together of a night when they sit in front of the TV while having dinner. They also use this time to talk for about an hour without using other devices. They particularly find their media devices helpful when they aren’t together, but can still keep in touch.

Acknowledgements

Wallace 2016, pers. comm., 24 October

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The Household Diaries – The James’

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Family Profile

Subject 1 | Male | Age 51 

Subject 1 owns an iPhone, Samsung tablet and PC and is the provider of two family TVs (with Foxtel). Within the household, most of his media consumption involves the TV and use of the PC for both leisure and work purposes.

Subject 2 | Female | Age 50 

Subject 2 owns her Samsung phone, tablet and spends a lot of time watching drama and reality shows on TV. Subject 2 rarely uses the PC however uses tablet quite regularly for a variety of reasons including online banking, shopping, research and news.

Subject 3 | Male | Age 22 

Subject 3 owns an iPhone, TV with Foxtel in his room and xbox and is the biggest media user in the household. Of an afternoon after coming home from work he usually winds down by playing the xbox and almost always watches TV in his room rather than in the family room due to different show interests to his parents. He keeps his phone close at all times for social media purposes as well as messaging and keeping up with sporting news. He also owns a laptop, however hasn’t used it in years as he finds his phone provides all the functions he needs and if not, will resort to using the family computer.

The Impact on Family Engagement

It is not unusual for all three members to watch three TVs separately on the same night. Due to the availability of media within the household (e.g. the 3 TVs all with Foxtel), it allows each member to watch their own shows. However, this has created a separation from the traditional TV space where families would watch together. Furthermore, subject 3 more often spends more time in his room using his media devices than in a family shared space, limiting the interaction between the family.

Acknowledgements

James 2016, pers. comm., 24 October

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The Household Diaries – The Prices

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Family Profile

Subject 1 | Male | Age 67

Subject 1 owns a Nokia mobile phone (NOT a smart phone) and PC. Within the household the only other media he shares with his partner is one TV (without Foxtel) in the lounge room. Subject 1 generally only uses the computer to check emails, research or book trips. He only uses his mobile to communicate with friends and family and when at home he likes to watch TV after dinner, otherwise he prefers to read.

Subject 2 | Female | Age 72

Subject 2 does not own any mobile devices of her own and relies on Subject 1 for messaging purposes, otherwise she uses the landline to make calls to friends and family. She prefers not to use the computer as the functions are not something she is accustomed to. Her TV consumption is usually done during the evenings to watch game shows or soaps, otherwise she prefers to go out, keep busy around the house or read.

The Impact on Family Engagement

Overall, the media usage in the Price household is quite low. The lack of media usage ensures there is still strong communication and connection between the two without any media distractions and as Subject 2 often relies on subject 1 to maintain any digital or mobile interaction (sometimes on behalf of her), that need for communication still exists. Finally, the TV often brings them together as they watch the same shows of a night time.

Acknowledgements

Harris 2016, pers. comm., 20 October

Price 2016, pers. comm., 20 October

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The Household Diaries – The Johnsons

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Family Profile

Subject 1 | Male | Age 52

Subject 1 owns the most devices in the house – his iPhone, PC, iPad and laptop and is the provider of the two main family TV’s in the house. Currently full time employed in a corporate job, he is required to use these devices quite frequently at home to keep up with emails and work. For leisure time, he often uses the PC to keep up with sports and news. In the morning he’ll often read the newspaper from his iPad at breakfast and of a night, you’ll find him watching TV in the main family room.

Subject 2 | Female | Age 47

Subject 2’s media usage involves her mobile phone, family computer and the television. She quite often enjoys playing games on her phone, such as Candy Crush and has recently discovered she is able to play the game on the computer as well. This is her go-to activity when she’s bored. Subject 2 uses the computer regularly during downtime, either playing games, checking emails or online shopping. She also watches TV consistently at night after dinner, however sometimes will multitask this whilst playing on her phone.

Subject 3 | Male | Age 22

Although subject 3 isn’t home all too often, when he is his media usage involves streaming online movies and shows. He’ll often be on his phone talking to and messaging friends and catching up on social media after a days work. He finds his laptop of great importance in catching up on weekly shows, downloading the latest music and connecting with others.

Subject 4 | Female | Age 20

Subject 4 is a full time university student and owns her own laptop, iPhone and iPad. She is probably the biggest media user in the household as she spends a great deal of time on her laptop for study purposes. She also has her own TV situated in her room (no Foxtel), allowing her to multitask on her laptop whilst watching/listening to her favourite shows or the news. Of a night as she often works, she uses the family TV (with Foxtel) to record any shows she’ll miss. Her iPhone is always close as she regularly messages, checks emails and uses social media. For leisure purposes, she is more likely to use her phone then go on her laptop unless she wants to watch something online or online shop which she sometimes uses her iPad to do so too.

Subject 5 | Male | Age 18 

Subject 5 owns an iPhone, a school provided laptop and his own PC. Currently in his final year of high school, he has been using his laptop for study and homework purposes more often, however most of his media usage is for entertainment purposes as you’ll find him more often playing online interactive games on his PC. Rather than using his phone, he interacts with friends online through the games he plays and through applications such as Skype. He rarely uses social media and only uses his phone if he receives a message. He also owns a playstation 4, however doesn’t use this unless friends are over. It is not unusual to see subject 5 spending whole days at a time on his PC playing games.

The Impact on Family Engagement

It is quite clear that the media usage within the family mainly stems from the 3 children, subjects 3, 4 and 5. Supporting at least 17 devices within the home, subject 1 explains they have needed to upgrade their data plan a few times to accommodate the online activity that each member undertakes.

In terms of relationships, Subject 1 describes that the family used to watch TV together after dinner, however this is no longer the case as it is now just himself and subject 2. Subject 4 admits her relationship with her siblings isn’t as close as it could be due to media usage. As Subject 5 is often submersed in an online gaming world, he finds this more comfortable then spending time with the rest of the family. Similarly, when subject 3 is at home, he is busy catching up on watching shows or socialising online rather than watching TV with his parents and subject 4 is often busy with university work or other priorities.

Thus, a certain extent of disconnectedness is evident within the household, however overall the family agrees that media is a huge beneficial factor in their personal lives for work and social reasons.

Acknowledgements

The Johnson Family

Johnson 2016, pers. comm., 19 October

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The Household Diaries

Welcome to the Household Diaries!

My BCM240 final assignment will explore the media trends and usage in different households as an expansion on week 4  – Locating the Networked home.  The purpose is to identify relationships between different family dynamics and their media usage. For example, a family of 5 may use more media than a family of 3, but I want to delve deeper into what media they’re using, why and how this affects the family overall. I chose this topic because I thought it was such a reality check when I conducted research on my own family and our media use.

I aim to interview at least 5 families, however will begin with my own. The questions asked will include general questions such as;

  • How many people live in your household and what are their genders and ages?
  • How many devices are used in your household (including computers, mobile phones, televisions, iPads, iPods, game consoles etc)
  • Who uses the most media and for what purpose?
  • How does media affect family engagement within the household?

Follow up questions will possibly be asked to explore each individuals media usage on a deeper level to find out why/why they don’t use media.

Each family will be represented in a separate blog post and the final post will be a summation and comparison between each family and my thoughts on the information I’ve gathered. First names will remain anonymous and I will be identifying individuals by their gender and age, and as always members will be aware findings will be published on this blog.

I hope this project causes participants and readers to reflect on their own media use at home as it has for me!

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Old School Media Regulation

Going back 3 years, back into high school days, media regulation was the bane of my school life existence. What do you mean I can’t use my phone in class? Why won’t these laptops let me check my Facebook? Are you trying to kill my social life?!

Tad dramatic but this was what it was like in high school. For 6 hours a day, 5 times a week, mobile phone and media use for social purposes was avoided due to fear of confiscation and detention. During high school, each student owned a school-issued laptop, however during school hours it was strictly for educational and research purposes. This was regulated by teacher supervision as well as all gaming sites and social media platforms blocked on the school server. Thus, students often resorted to using their phones, however never in the sight of a teacher as they would likely confiscate it until the end of the day.

Social anxieties or moral concerns that aid the argument to regulate media use in school include privacy issues among students and teachers, the ability to film on school grounds and upload to social media/youtube and  inappropriate web searches. In terms of space and place, it is obvious that schools set these media regulations due to  concerns that students will become distracted on these devices and this will negatively impact their education.

Research from the UK shows the impact of schools banning mobile phones on student test scores. The study involved surveying schools in four cities in England about their mobile phone policies since 2001 and combining it with student achievement data from externally marked national exams (Beland & Murphy, 2015). Results found that “low-achieving students are more likely to be distracted by the presence of mobile phones, while high achievers can focus in the classroom regardless of whether phones are present. Given heterogeneous results, banning mobile phones could be a low-cost way for schools to reduce educational inequality” (Beland & Murphy 2015, p.17)

In Australia, schools are given responsibility to create their own media policies. Whilst most are anti-mobile, Christian Brothers’ College in St Kilda East is one example of a school who overturned it’s ban on mobile phone usage. Whilst students are only to use them when given permission, and still not to be used at recess or lunchtime, students are finding them helpful to take photos of notes in class (Topsfield, J 2011).

Overall I think its inevitable to successfully regulate entire media use in schools particularly today with increased access to new technologies such as proxies and mobile devices. It shouldn’t be ignored that mobile phones could be a useful learning tool if their use is properly structured.

References:

Beland, L & Murphy, R 2015, Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance, The London School of Economics and Political Science, viewed 26 September 2016 <http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1350.pdf&gt;

Topsfield, J 2011, ‘School principal answers call to ditch mobile phone ban,’ The Sydney Morning Herald‘ May 30, viewed 26 September 2016 <http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/school-principal-answers-call-to-ditch-mobile-phone-ban-20110529-1faxl.html&gt;

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