A great article in the NYT today about a handful of scholars thinking about effects of heavy duty technology use — in the wilderness. Neuroscientists, not us clever comm researchers… But made me reflect my thoughts about effects.

A couple of years ago, I was part of a team conducting an overview report of current communication research in the US for a Finnish foundation (HSF). Although I had spend some time in the US, and knew a bit about the academic context, the prominence of the so called effects research (as in: effects of mass media, often researched in laboratory settings) took me by total surprise. That kind of research, to my understanding, is quite marginal in Europe (disclaimer: maybe I’ve just never explored the field in Europe, but at least seldom encountered such research in conferences, journals…)

When I asked my fab Fordham students, of the course Media & Society, what they think would be the most acute research need, they almost unanimously mentioned the necessity to study how youth that grow up as heavy users of media will be affected mentally, socially, emotionally… Will their digital living as adults be something completely different than of adults of today?

This discourse of effects, as important as it is, still makes me a little vary; only because often the premises are a little skewed (see David Gauntlett‘s funny ‘10 things wrong about the effects model‘); for me, especially because they tend to emphasise the negative and perhaps thus circulate unnecessary slogans and fears…