Over the holidays I spent some quality (and quantity) time with my teenagers and I learned some millennial media lessons – but as a user and not just as a trend observer. My top 4 media lessons?
1) Binge watching shows – why wade through commercials or wait 7 days for the next installment of a good program? I know that I may be the last one to jump on this media trend train but this Mom has signed on. Old favorites of West Wing? I was chain watching them like a smoker goes through a pack of camels. House of Cards? Its my new obsession. But the beauty of watching commercial free programming on Netflix made it really tough for me to sit through network shows where they are overtly increasing the amount of commercial time between programming. I mean sure, I like Madam Secretary, but any idiot can tell that the commercial breaks lengthen as we get toward the end of the show. My daughter suggests that I just record the show and skip through the commercials. See, she is learning at that nice public school! Is anyone at the networks working on a new playbook? I used to think that binge watching was for millennial loafers with nothing better to do than sit around and watch hours of TV. Now I’m using the old adage “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”.
2) Shared mobile games are a lot of fun! And who knew that scores of my friends are willing and ready to challenge me to a round of TRIVIA CRACK? Okay, that may be the most aptly named app ever. It is very addictive. I don’t know why I never jumped in on the words with friends fad, but there is something nice about playing a round of trivia with an old high school friend, a neighbor, my kids, and even my kids friends. Its especially nice when I win, of course. As a media pseudo snob, I thought that these games were for the kids. But why should kids have all the fun? I’ve added this to my list of favorite vices.
3) Stupid You Tube videos as perfect ice breakers at awkward gatherings? Haven’t seen these cousins for 3 years? Bust out Scott Sterling and see if they counter with Old Greg. I used to be that Mom who told the kids to put away their phones and turn off the TV at social gatherings. But lets face it, not all social gatherings are created equal. I think the holidays help underline that point in black Sharpie. We had a couple of soirees that started off stiff, but once my son started the video trading, the laughs began and the conversation followed. Again, I have to hand it to my millennials. Now that we have armed them with Smartphones, they sometimes use them for good.
4) Social Media Cyber bullying – it’s appalling and to my surprise it is very real. Its easy to be an anonymous hater behind a computer screen. I was outraged when my daughter showed me Twitter pages (complete with pictures lifted from social media) that went up dedicated to maligning several of her high school contemporaries. Their offense? Dating more than one person during high school. First, I would have thought that would be a good thing. ( But I have already established here that I am seriously out of touch) These cyber bullies were slinging some hurtful trash and straight up vicious slander about their fellow classmates. It is the stuff from the movies and headlines. Except that I learned something new – that there are more kids than ever fighting back. My daughter showed me where dozens had responded to the pages by calling out the authors as cowards and haters. There were more retweets and likes of the protesters than there was of the bullying. Then she showed me how she could report them to Twitter, as had hundreds of other kids by the end of the day. And then she showed me how to just unfollow the pages and turn your back on negative karma and media.
My big “Aha” is that my kids have much more enticing media and entertainment choices than I did when I was their age. Hell, they have more choices than I had 5 years ago! But they also have the burden of knowing when to flip it off. As I started to live in their world, I am got a much better appreciation for how hard it is to master that skill. Mama Says So.