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America’s elderly seem more screen-obsessed than the young (economist.com)
216 points by CPAhem 62 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 101 comments



As my grandmother's Parkinson's progressed, she had to give up knitting. Then she gave up all the crafts that she had spent her days on. As things got worse, she could no longer go for walks or visit the neighbors. She stopped cooking, too, another thing she loved. Then she couldn't hold a book still enough to read it, and the contraptions we'd set up for her also stopped working since eventually she lost the coordination to turn a page in a book. We got her an iPad and she could vaguely swipe so she could read. Eventually she needed help even with her iPad.

My point is that the elderly aren't necessarily hypocrites. They have a very different lifestyle than you do. The challenges they face are different, what they're capable of is different.

My father is perfectly able-bodied, but you can only golf so many times a week and I think he's gotten sucked into the news and his screen. He just doesn't have anything else meaningful to do with his time.


I've had different experiences with my 70+ year old friends.

That experience is, of course, self selected for folks who have stuff that they will do with younger folks like me... mostly playing music. But I believe that folks that age are capable of a whole damn lot, assuming that they didn't do a shit-ton of coke or something in their 30s.

My dad is pretty far into Parkinsons, and I think that the disease has more to do with why he doesn't do stuff than anything. It's not that he's not "capable" of stuff... it's that he doesn't want to. That is a fine distinction, I know, and I can see how folks don't think it is even a real distinction. My mom describes the issue with Parkinsons as "I've fallen and I don't want to get up".

I wouldn't bother typing that all out, except that I feel like there is a point worth mentioning to people who don't have a lot of older friends:

there's nothing necessary about stopping doing a lot of what we do as we get older.

Eventually, we all get pain and/or a loss of senses, but it's not (I believe) as completely show-stopping. We don't have to give up on living.

I went rock climbing with a 68-year-old last month, and though the climb wasn't super hard, it was certainly a run for my money... it was 5.6R grade IV, and she led the 45M run out pitch, and the 6km of hiking on the return didn't seem to phase her.

Her feeling was that a lot of folks just stop trying around age 60. Their goals become "let's take the RV to AK some time this year" instead of "I'm going to write the best novel that I have written this year" (that was one of her goals).

She is exceptional, I think.

Still, my point is: if you can golf, you can do a lot more than do FB when you're not golfing.

And I hope there are folks who remind me of that as I approach those ages.


> That experience is, of course, self selected for folks who have stuff that they will do with younger folks like me... mostly playing music. But I believe that folks that age are capable of a whole damn lot, assuming that they didn't do a shit-ton of coke or something in their 30s.

I don't understand why you disregard selection bias as insignificant. That factor deserves more than an offhand, brushed-off aside.

The reality is, the old people who you regularly interact with are XYZ. We can't conclude anything about old people in general based on your personal experiences.


> As my grandmother's Parkinson's progressed, she had to give up knitting.

> My point is that the elderly aren't necessarily hypocrites. They have a very different lifestyle than you do. The challenges they face are different, what they're capable of is different.

IMO the thread continued at the level of intensity from where it started.


For me, his data that the old people he interacts with are XYZ are both comforting and a motivational existence proof.


Sure, but it really does depend on who you interact with. My aunt runs a care home, and I had this discussion with her once - she said something like "oh I dread getting old, you can't do anything anymore, your memory goes, you can't go to the toilet by yourself, you can't dress yourself, moving anywhere can kill you....being old is horrible!", to which I replied that you know, you probably feel that way because 100% of old people you interact with on the daily basis are like this. Those who are well just don't go into care homes when they are old, so you never see them, but they are definitely out there.


"The reality is, the old people who you regularly interact with are XYZ. We can't conclude anything about old people in general based on your personal experiences. "

True.

Hence why I state that there is a bias to begin with.

The point of my comment is that other people are possibly engaged the same process but without realizing their bias, and thereby making an unwarranted conclusion about all older folks in general.


Wow, she sounds pretty cool. I can only hope that I am that cool when I reach that age.


Purpose is so easily given by a computing device in a way the "greatest generation" might have missed, but boomers are possibly starting to figuring it out.

I am fascinated to find out how much it actually matters to longevity, because when millennial get into nursing homes, we're not likely to have any problem continuing to find purpose in the most arbitrary of things. Today there are puzzle corners, eventually there are going to be WoW corners, VR corners.


Some elderly people who live alone like the TV on for company - in many cases they aren't even watching it properly, they just have it on in the background to feel less lonely, like there are other people in the house with them. The article even alludes to this albeit in negative terms "this includes time spent engaged in other activities while the television is blaring in the background". But it is a very different pattern from being "screen-obsessed" and "waste hours ... fritter on chat-shows and repeats of soaps". I think the author could benefit from showing a little more sympathy towards people who have circumstances different from their own.


We mostly got the grandparents on facebook because they kept complaining about not getting photos in the mail anymore. This give them the ability to see the photos of the grandkids and great grandkids in the system that their kids and grandkids actually use.

Of course I'm more than a little nervous about facebook radicalization and scams, but we made sure she does things like not use her real photo and luckily my aunt that lives nearby is very tech-savvy and paranoid. But unfortunately facebook seems to be the best option for helping more isolated elderly people connect with their families.


Preface: this is going to sound like an advertisement, but I promise I'm not connected in any way. I just like the idea.

Have you heard of NanaGram? (https://nanagram.co/). It's a service that regularly mails physical copies of photos to someone you choose, and it's one of the most "of course that should be a product" products that I've seen recently.


It's a winner of an idea, because Facebook lets us work around the real goal of grandparents when they ask us for regular updates; attention. Giving our elderly family members ways of passively observing us defeats their goal of wanting us to talk to them, but a NanaGram is a specific, actionable gift that demonstrates this abstract, "Well they must be thinking of me!" concept that they can then extrapolate however they need.


@otras thanks for sharing. It's an honor to be mentioned on HN like this.

One of the big goals of the product is to increase interaction between loved ones. I wrote about this a bit more at https://nanagram.co/blog/niche-start — we have a feature, which allows you to list names and phone numbers of you and your siblings on a cover photo. I get reports all the time of grandparents who go down the list, dialing each grandkid to talk through the photos with them.


Have you tried talking with them?


Seems pretty expensive, when you can print a photo from your local CVS for 10c and mail it for 50c.


We're certainly a convenience service. You can definitely do this cheaper on your own and I wrote a bit more about that here: https://nanagram.co/blog/how-to-mail-photos/

I think our prices are pretty solid and often hear that from customers. For $6.99 per month we mail 5 photos and all you have to do is text or email them to us. We also have an annual plan which brings the price down to just under $6 per month.

The service also really shines when you have multiple senders (siblings, cousins, etc) using it as we curate photos from the group via reminders.

We recently had the 5-photo plan set to $7.99 but unlocked savings on the fulfillment side, passing those on to customers.

Pricing has been a challenge for sure, as on one hand I've always firmly believed the product should be accessible to people from all walks of life, and on the other there is a reality of paying the bills.


I know Google is gets criticism, but if you want to share photos with grandparents, Google Photos is well designed for that purpose and avoids many of Facebook's problems.


Google Photos or a similar photo-only service with sharing features may be better than Facebook if that's your main use and you have concerns about scams and radicalization.


Eh, you go where your audience is right?

If the grandkids banter all the time on facebook that's the real draw. The photos are just an initial obvious benefit, it's much easier to explain a photo stream than chat threads to someone new to the internet. Facebook does a pretty good job at making interactions feel natural, much as I dislike them.


Yes, it is valid strategy. Not only elderly do it. I have seen women who cared for children to do it too. Otherwise there is too much silence and nothing interesting going on whole day, it helps to keep sanity.

Morning tv programs and soap operas are designed especially for people like that.


If you have a family and a small house having the TV on can provide some much needed privacy that you do not have in a dead silent house. A lot of it may be habit from having kids, something a good number of younger journalists can't relate to.


I've done it as a man too.


Or they were conditioned to this as the normal state. I grew up in a home with three TVs: living room, parent's bedroom, my bedroom. The TV in the living room was on 24 hours a day. It only went off if we left the house. My father was an insomniac and so it stayed on all night too.

The one in their bedroom was on most of the time. It usually only went off at night when my father moved to the couch in the living room to let my mother sleep.

For years after I moved out I had to have a TV on at all times or else the place I was in felt empty and too quiet. When I realized this about myself I cut cable out of my life and can barely stand the TV now. When we visit my mom, it's always on, and it's always on FOX. My father sat in front of it every day until he died of dementia. My mother can't break the habit now. Even when we visit she keeps it on and occasionally watches it instead of engaging with us and is making it very hard to visit.


When I have a few days alone at home for whatever reason I'll usually leave the radio (BBC Radio 4) on in the background, it definitely makes a difference.


That's how TV worked (for those who remember the TV days). In most slow/quiet/boring places there was a tv in the background .


My mother and her friends are completely lost to Facebook addiction. It’s like they grew up without any immunity or incoulation from video games, MySpace, etc. and Facebook hit with full force to their naive social media immune system. It’s like crack, you can’t get them off of it. Reminds me of the first time I played Everquest. My mother will be at actual family events like birthdays and instead of interacting is mindlessly scrolling her feed in a room alone on a couch instead of making actual memories. It is the only “socialization” she and her friends seem to do now and that is a terrible thing in my opinion.


Same. It's very weird how the tables have turned on this.

Facebook also creates a divide between people that have Facebook and people that don't. It's especially weird when that divide is between you and your immediate family. Luckily I'm someone who isn't too bothered by it.


Same here, but on my girlfriend's side of the family. At any social gathering, the women in their 60's are glued to their phones the entire time. They play the "here, look at this" game with each other, or anyone that walks past.

Although this may be limited to my personal experience, I don't notice it with the men. Some of them still have flip phones.


Yes. Watching some of the adults in my life shift into being the ones who are constantly on their phones while the kids (adult kids) beg them to put them down and engage is interesting.


I see the same thing with my parents though on closer inspection of the data, 65+ yo users use their smartphone less than all the other cohorts on the hart.


In my experience older Facebook users can spend a lot of time on their desktop computer, too.


Every cohort goes thru a new media adoption lifecycle. Radio, TV, CB-radio, cell phones, MMORPG, etc. Over time, most people will grow out of it.

The difference here is that most seniors won't have that opportunity to adapt, due to age (time to live) or declining cognitive function.

Most recently, my mother has fallen into the outrage news & talk show cess pool. She'll happily watch history, knitting, antiques, wildlife shows. But once those programs are over, she reverts to the default channels.

I'd like someone to create Old People TV. Just happy feel good programming. And parental control type apps for seniors.

PS- Even worse are the ads preying on the elderly. Criminal.


This matches a pattern I think I noticed in the last few years (maybe it was there all along): those who want to protect the weak by forbidding some aspect of life are often the ones that seem to somehow struggle with it themselves.

E.g. sexuality. Those with a healthy sexuality are literally never the ones asking to protect the youth from it. It is always those for whom it is connected with shame and stigma. So the most safe route to become afraid of the sexualization of the youth seems to be to have shameful sedual thoughts yourself. And because you, a (in your self image) controlled person have troubles with your dirty mind, how bad must it be for the youth?

So when it comes to assigning priorities to potential problems, one seems to look to themselves and extrapolate from there.

I saw similar patterns with parents that have troubles with their TV habits and extrapolate that onto the (in their eyes comparable) activity of siting on a computer.

The problem with computers is, that you can’t really tell what your kid does unless you spy on it or have the trust bond to ask them. They could be playing games, socialize, watch porn, read the news, watch videos, learn programming or editing software — who knows.

The generation of obsessive television watchers thinks kids are doomed because of the internet. The generation of wild parties belives the youth is unhinged (despite evidence against it). Etc. Just because it was aproblem for you doesn’t mean the next generation even wants it.

I have cousins that are around the age I threw my first wild parties and they didn’t even go out ror a drink yet, befause it literally doesn’t interest them.


This is usually called projection.


There seems to be a pattern where a new, addicting technology sinks its claws in, and the it requires a certain amount of youthful malleability to realize the problems it causes and grow out of it. And the older you are, the less of that adaptive ability you seem to have.

My mom plays the most mind-numbing mobile and Facebook (yep) games, instead of realizing there's a bigger world of much higher-quality content out there. Gen Z seems to have the hindsight about social media to resist some of the effects it's had on millennials. Etc.


Gen Z I’m around literally do not post anything that isn't ephemeral and for friends only, or at all. Also more and more routine social media detoxes.

Posting IG photos? Posting to your story? they’ll straight up tell me “thats not the move, you don’t want to do that”

Its group chats or bust.

Millennials spent so much time rejecting vertical videos, stories, and all that stuff and are the main ones using the older social networks for that.


Agreed. I'm one of those oddball half-GenX/half-millennials, but I spend a lot of time around Gen Z's. (Not in a creepy way, I'm just the eldest cousin in a huge close extended family.) I think the way Gen Z handles tech is awesome. They're quick to apply skepticism, common sense, and a concern for privacy. I think us oldsters could learn a lot from them.


There is nothing about technology that inherently makes it more alluring for young people. In the future we should actually expect that it will be the elderly who possess the most knowledge about a wide variety of technology and are also the heaviest of users of it.

This expectation that young people would be more predisposed to technology grew from incorrect notions of their natural learning abilities and the technological adoption curve.

There is a generation of people who were born at precisely the right time such that technology was simple and analog enough for them to understand from a young age, and from that point grew in complexity at a pace that was proportional to their own mental development, allowing them to seamlessly transition into more advanced technologies with clearer intuition about how it works. Whatever the next best thing was, they were certain it was better than whatever came before, because progress was exponential for so long, and they had actually seen everything that came before. This may be the only generation that is so obsessed with technology, because all their life has been nothing but exponential technological advancement, and a belief that technology can do anything.

It cannot.

The new generations coming into this world where everyday technology is the best it has ever been and probably the best it will ever be quickly come to understand that, and have no expectations of better things to come. For that they will look elsewhere, back to the old ways. The vintage, the analog, the fleeting.


IMO and in my direct experience, all of my favorite tech has gotten objectively worse over the last few years.

- My phone cannot play music through headphones and charge at the same time. Nor can I use any old pair of headphones with it, and most pairs have to spend time charging before I can use them. My phones 5+ years ago did not have these major usability problems.

- I ordered food while in NYC recently using an app. Out of 5 attempted orders, 4 were stolen by the driver and only 1 order arrived in reasonable condition. The other orders took ~3 hours to sort out. Ordering a pizza 5-10 years ago? No way is that gonna get stolen 4/5 times.

- Google Search on Android (voice) has gotten way worse. It used to offer functions like always offering to search the web (it's Google!), or letting me quickly review past audio search results. Now I cannot see any more past results without redoing the search and waiting for the response. I also cannot find any way to perform a web search on ~50% of my queries. Typing on a desktop computer is way better than voice searching on Android, but I used to have a stellar experience voice searching on Android. It's gone. Will it ever come back?

- Many websites are nearly impossible to use now. I barely use the web because there are so many intrusive ads.

Maybe my point is made. In many many cases, the last few years have seen a sharp drop in technology utility for many regular younger. None of this stuff needs to be getting worse, but it is.


This has happened at other times in the past as well. Video games stagnated in the 80s pre-Nintendo, Microsoft's "embrace, extend, extinguish" killed a lot of innovation in the 90s. Macs died a slow an horrible death before Jobs' revival...

Technology cycles and we're at the end of a large one. Consolidation, regulatory capture and gaps between generations cause this IMO.


The inconsistency in voice search is annoying. About 1/3 of the time I get the old, good weather report with the next 3-10 days' forecast and hourly precipitation. Then 1/3 I get only temperature and a link to weather.com. I don't know what I get the other 1/3. All I know is the good results are out there but they don't offer them every time.


I agree. The last time I felt like my tech was working "better than ever" was around 2007.


I see that in mine and my wife's parents. It is a pretty good indicator of how much their lives suck or do not suck. The lonelier, less engaged with the world they are the more screen time. And who can blame them.


I was surprised to see that this was the only comment specifically calling out loneliness (and although you didn't call it out by name, depression).

Maintaining a social life takes work, maintaining one into your 70s even moreso; particularly if certain sacrifices which were seen to be necessary at the time were made to raise children who later leave.

Divorce is more common than 40 years ago (I'm not taking a moral stand here, I'm all for leaving toxic relationships but friends are often lost as collateral damage), and grandchildren less.

Social media and television are to our social lives what fast food is to our need to eat.

I'd speculate that if you normalised for loneliness the screen use by age would become a much flatter line.


Unfortunately, a lot of this is spent watching corporate news-product, leading to heavily warped worldviews.


I’ve yet to find a news source without an agenda, corporate or non-profit


https://www.afp.com/en

Agence France Presse is a bit of an oddity in terms of structure. Legally a corporation, it has no shareholders and is forbidden by its bylaws to receive public subventions. It mostly sell news feeds to other medias.

You may be surprised by the clear design and the absence of ads.

It is managed by an assembly of 18 people, mostly representatives from local medias (who are all biased in different ways) and 3 members sent by the government. Its finances are managed by specialized magistrates.

In my opinion it is a great model organization of private-public collaboration and an example of correctly set incentives for a good neutral news agency.


PBS News Hour is about as close as you're going to get in America, in terms of lack of strong political bias and emphasis on factual, 'hard' news.


I wonder if you have reviewed the work done by Ad Fontes Media. They've made the most thorough effort I've come across to determine the degree and nature of bias in various media organizations.

https://www.adfontesmedia.com/


Every generation thinks their parents got it all wrong.


That doesn't mean previous generations didn't make any mistakes.


Many had it right, but then watched to much TV.


s/to/too/


Or even worse, an increasing amount is spent on conspiracy sites and even 4chan; the Q-anon thing seems almost entirely driven by seniors.


I assure you, people over 65 are not getting their views warped by anything, only reinforced.


Plenty of people in the 70–90 years old range have been radicalized to a shocking degree in the past few decades after a steady media diet of right-wing radio and TV, which for many has crowded out more traditional news media.

I know folks who used to believe in helping refugees, standing up for human rights, guaranteeing every citizen the right to vote, crafting policy under guidance of experts, holding politicians and businesses accountable for corruption and fraud, supporting science, etc., but now spout unhinged conspiracy theories about e.g. civil servants and climate scientists, stand up for murderous autocrats, and echo very strange racist ideas about social relations.

It’s very difficult to listen to a steady drumbeat of fear and hate for years and years and not come out with a warped worldview. Especially when a broader community of these old people’s friends are all consuming the same propaganda.


Maybe their lives haven't developed how they wanted them too and thus are less optimistic in general and looking for scapegoats (or causes) to their unhappiness.


It’s like you’ve met my grandparents.


I see the other side in my family. They subject themselves to a nonstop firehose of seething Trump outrage and Russiagate. They hate the president but are obsessed with hating him. I’m no fan of him either but this doesn’t seem healthy. A two minutes hate that lasts 24/7.

It’s all a heinous mess. Just an endless stream of low-quality trash that addicts people of all stripes.


There's a dedicated contingent of folks hyper-critical of every president, it's exhausting. Even Trump does something right once in a while, in the broken-clock sense.


Do you honestly believe folks who begin to echo racist ideas about social relations did not have racist thoughts prior, but were 'introduced' to them via mass media?

I understand that many people want to believe their elders are good, rational, intelligent people, and it's that damn media diet. I'm sorry - it's not McDonalds that makes people obese, it's people willing to become obese that continue going to McDonalds.


The graph at the top clearly shows flat TV habits from 2015 to 2019 for the elderly (and more TV use than younger demographics); and increasing computer and smartphone use but still less than younger demographics, even after increase.

So comments about how the elderly might be more succeptible to social network addition seem off the mark. They are still using computer/smartphone less than other demographics, not more.

Props to well-designed infrographic at the top, anti-props to the clickbait title which has contradicting implications.


I feel guilty for enabling this by buying them smartphones. Now my parents are in a room watching their respective daily soaps/Whatsapp junk viral videos and propaganda on Youtube for hours everyday (and late at night as well).


Can confirm. My mom is a Facebook power user and doesn’t even know it. She cares so much about what her high school graduating class is up to; including spats in comments about politics, etc.

My father on the other hand is old school and never opted into social media.


if I am asked "do you read or watch TV" I read, by 10:1.

but, if I am asked "do you spend time in front of a screen" the answer is different because I read on a kindle.

I'm in the age cohort in question btw. I gave up TV about two years ago, around the time I also stopped doing FaceBook.


Retired individuals said to have more free time.


Except that they should have less required work screen time because they're retired? A large variety of today's jobs involve sitting in front of a computer 4-8 hours a day, so on the face of it, retired people have more options.

But the observations of this article aren't that surprising to me. What doesn't require screen time these days?

Mainly exercise, in-person socializing, and reading paper books.

Exercise and in-person socializing seem to be naturally reduced for older people. (Of course I can think of a few people that are exceptions)

And even reading paper books is less of an option for older people with reduced vision. My grandfather lived to a very old age and I believe it was easier for him to watch TV than to read books.

Ironically I feel like almost everything else involves a screen: travelling seems to increase your attachment to your phone, socializing with family is often done through a screen, anything in "media" like making music or video often involves a screen, etc. Planning vacations, doing your taxes, financial planning, etc. are all very screen-centric IMO.


If you look at the graph, which is the very first thing in that article, it's mostly TV viewing.


The article is (confusingly) not about all screen time, but just media consumption. I assume that 'media consumption' would not include tasks like doing work or financial planning, or taxes, or vacation planning, etc.


That's surprising, not because of the amount that elderly watch TV (here my grandfather won't move from the living room when the cricket's on), but because I thought more people under the age 60 would be behind a computer 8 hours a day.


> but because I thought more people under the age 60 would be behind a computer 8 hours a day.

They are, but it isn't counted here (this is "media consumption only", not all screen time) confusingly enough.


Older people may watch a ridiculous amount of television but I've only seen young people staring down at their phones while using the urinal.


Honest question: what's wrong with using a phone while you use a urinal?


This really annoys me when I see it. Partially due to privacy concerns. Just casually say, "You're not recording me, right?" and watch them get very defensive


I don't understand why people are so addicted to their phones they literally can't even take 15 seconds to concentrate on pissing anymore.

In addition to that you're at a row of urinals with a camera out. It's just straight up weird to me.


I don't have to concentrate to pee, so I don't see an issue with looking at my phone while I'm standing there


Specially since phones are waterproof nowadays.


The use of "obsessed" is a pretty aggressive conclusion - just because people do something a lot doesn't mean they're obsessed. I'm not obsessed with laundry and vacuuming because I have a dog that sheds a lot.

When I was a kid, my grandma was in a retirement home, and every time I'd go over, she'd have the TV on and blasting at full volume. She wasn't obsessed, there just wasn't much else she could do. She was in bad physical shape, so she couldn't leave her room easily. Her eyes were bad, so she couldn't read or engage in a lot of other activities. Her options were the TV or talking to her kids on the phone, and you can only do the latter for so many hours a week.

Millennials/teens/whatever group of young people you want to compare them to are more physically fit and able to get around, plus they have larger social networks. That enables them to do a much broader range of activities than the elderly, so of course it's likely they'll divide their time among more things than the elderly will.


10 hours per day looking at a screen certainly fits the bill for "obsessed", I'd say.


When you have difficulty getting out of your house and there aren't many other activities you can do? Obsession is a state of being actively preoccupied with something - it's not defined by an amount of time spent doing something. You have to consider the context and the mental state, not just the length of time.


How does someone in their 50s watch six hours of television a day?

I'm 63 and even on days when i am not working I'd be hard put to find six hours to sit in front of a television.

I'm not American; but I can't see what difference that should make.


"Fox News did to our parents what they thought video games would do to us."

-Ryan Scott


All cable news is trash. The world would be better if the entire medium went away.


"I have terminal cancer."

"I Know what you feel man. I have a flu. All diseases suck."

There is huge difference between meaningless and sensational trash news and channel designed by media genius (Roger Ailes) to achieve a specific goal with false narratives.


It's only your own personal political alignment that makes you see Fox as malevolent but other cable news sources as innocently blundering.



I wasn't trying to and wouldn't ever imply that Fox News is innocently blundering, it's your own personal political alignment that would make you read me that way.


It used to actually be OK... Before that big event a bit under 2 decades ago. I recall that as being the most meaningful turning point. That's when "the thing the airport left on over the terminal" became 'news-entertainment' (ad funded hell) and the 24/7 non-stop news-cycle truly gained momentum.

Want to make the news better gain? Kill ads.


I was a child at the time, but by all reports CNN’s breathless reporting during the first gulf war (1990–1991) was terrible. More generally every time I have ever tried watching CNN it was a very low signal:noise mix of sensationalism and gossip, without much if any serious analysis and with very low density of factual information; from what I understand that is what it has always been since its founding. Fox News was founded as an explicit propaganda channel in 1996. CNBC has always been a pro-corporate business channel. Etc.

Cable news has never been okay. Maybe you are thinking of national news programs on broadcast TV at some point in the past, or e.g. the PBS News Hour?

It would be conceivably possible to spend 24 hours/day on real hard-hitting video journalism, serious policy analysis, deep interviews with experts, etc., but the format doesn’t really lend itself to that. Instead every show competes for low-information channel surfers.

There are rare cable news slots like Maddow’s show that are more serious than the rest. But those could just as easily be hosted on some other kind of station, and they’re still far from what they might be if given serious resources.


I don't know man. It probably got worse around that time, but it sure seemed like it was already News Entertainment during the first Gulf War.


I'm willing to agree: my baseline was "OK" not "actually good".


we play the game with the bravery of being out of range


Isn't it mostly a consequence of more available free time and possibly boredom?


And a realization how empty life has become without constant worries and work to fill it in. Yeah digital media are also addictive, but primarily they are a better reality than the physical


oh how the turns have tabled


And it's only going to get worse.


It makes sense - this is still a novelty to the old(er), but it’s been part of young people’s lives since they were born.


Look at the charts. This is mostly television they are talking about. TV is not a novelty for anyone anymore.


Computer and TV (while the largest slice) are holding steady, Smartphone is the one ballooning.

But these are _mostly_ people at home, not in the job market so what should they do instead, volunteer, read? I dunno if I would castigate them for this.


To me, looking at the charts, the TV line seems flat for seniors but the smartphone line is a major increase since 2015. My interpretation is that seniors have added 2+ hours per day of screentime in the last 4 years and 100% of the addition is smartphones.

Edit: Also, anecdotally, TV is a quite a novelty for me. I had basic TV ears when I was a kid, but never cable. I was ~31 before I got cable TV (always was affordable but never a desire). I definitely personally see TV as more of a novelty than smartphones.

Edit: Also worth noting that the article is about media consumption but the headline (and subheader) only references "screen time". Could be confusing if comparing to groups outside seniors, who use screens for a lot more than media consumption.




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