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We all live in a world ruled by technology, unable to get through a day without being affected in some way by one form or another of the latest all-singing, all-dancing forms of new media that will, allegedly, make our lives that bit more bearable. And if you thought you were safe in your own home, as you settle down to watch your favourite soap, you’d be wrong! With the switch-off of all analogue channels and the completion by 2012 of the digital switchover, our comfortingly familiar TV will get a 21st-century New Media Technologies facelift. Though digital technology is not new to our TV screens, given that over 15 million of us already experience it, the ‘totally digital’ TV we will soon have to get accustomed to, will open up to us a far wider channel selection than ever before. With its sharper picture, vibrant colour and overall better quality, the first impression gives it a good head start, but there’s more... With a much wider selection of channels available, there’s something for all the family, from soaps for mum and grandma, to kids’ channels, sports for dad, as well as music and radio. It also exposes us to the relatively new and exciting world of ‘interactivity’, whereby we can shop for clothes, jewellery, holidays and home ware. There will be access to betting channels, gaming, and a spot of banking! Any of that tickle your taste buds? Feel free to order a pizza too, all at the touch of a button! This brand new feat in technology catapults the viewer into the 21st century with a bang, as we are exposed to all this choice. However, will we become blinded by the immensity of it all and forget to weigh up its negative side? With its grand unveiling in the relatively near future, and our predictable excitement at the grandeur of its ‘newness’, will we maybe become addicted to this new advance, and take advantage of it a bit too much, using its interactivity primarily for shopping, banking, gaming, betting? It is possible that this could engulf the social lives that are so important to us now. One can almost hear the tumbleweed that will pass through ‘Gala Bingo’ on a Friday night, as players choose instead to have a game of scratch from the comfort of their own homes, a cup of hot cocoa in one hand, remote in the other... And what about the younger generation, who may also become addicted? As we know already, it’s hard enough to drag a teenager away from the TV to get on with their overdue coursework, even without this proliferation of choice! This will surely have an effect on homework and school grades – thought it may well keep them from the dangers of the streets (or the danger they may cause). Furthermore, younger children may be exposed to and influenced by violent/ ‘colourful’ channels. Will there be a watershed that we have become so accustomed to on analogue? And this goes without mentioning the potential cost of the predictable addictiveness of shopping channels – will they bleed us dry?
Natalie Eccleshall is an A2 Media student at Kingsmead Technology College, Hednesford, Staffordshire. from MediaMagazine 22, December 2008.