The latest research shows more than two-thirds of Serbs have some kind of media addiction. Authors of the research conducted by Positive Center for Digital Media and Faculty for Culture and Media, Ljubisa Bojic president of executive committee and dr Srbobran Brankovic member of executive committee presented their findings at a conference in Media Center Belgrade.
They introduced representatives of partner organizations which would help Positive Center provide continuous insight in media addiction rates and media unreality index to assist governments improve media strategies, raise public awareness about these issues and advise media how to fulfill their social role better.
Regional Audiovisual Attache of French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Michel Willefert opened the conference stating that recent events showed traditional media failed to fulfill their role.
“While 62.4 citizens use media more than 10 years ago, 21.3 % use new media more than old ones. When it comes to perception of media, 50.6 % citizens think new media are manipulative, while 77.4 % think this for mainstream media. Citizens thrust new media more than the old ones, but they show greater level of media addiction to new media. When asked about use of new media to establish relations with new people, 35.5% met someone by social network, 12.9 % of them started to socialize with new acquaintances, 9.6 % became friends, while 4.9% achieved intimate partnerships” said dr Brankovic.
He added that when it comes to what people want in media, 65.9 % of them demand more education, 34.3 % want more documentary programs, 25.4 % want more informative contents. As for the TV news, 63% of citizens wish more positive examples from society, 49 % would like to see more inspiring stories, while 61.4 % thinks we need less activities of politicians.
“Prevailing number of negative news indicate that media contents are unrealistic, additionally scaring their viewers, thus making them stay at home with TV screen on”, said Bojic. Citizens think we need less negative news (45.2 %) and that we have too much negative news on TV (76.6 %) compared to positive news, while 44.9 % of people feel news about crimes, disasters and diseases negatively affect their mood. In an interview for Radio Belgrade “Talasanje” prorgam, Ljubisa Bojic states we need to rethink effects of news about sporadic accidents, because these do not represent our reality in a valid way. He gave an example of a news about drowning in a lake, which may affect kids to stay at home, stuck to their screens. Bojic also mentioned devastating effects of recent news campaign about flu pandemics, as it was primed in mainstream media.
When it comes to media addiction indicators, 24 % feel to overuse media, 31.9 % often use media to forget problems, 26.1 % are not able to resist media use despite they want to do something else, 30.1 % feel the need to go somewhere without media use to work without interruption, 22.4% feel the need to close their social network profile because they cannot resist using media despite they do not want to.
“Initial reasons for media addiction may be some kind of stressful situations coming from the family, work environment or moral norms”, stated Bojic. He added that these people decide to substitute their direct worlds with the indirect ones. People repress their inner impulses, because it is too hard to face hurtful reality. Media addicts tend to entertain themselves, thus forgetting their problems. What they experience in media is a world far away from their realities, which pushes them into addiction even more. Instead of stimulating their realities, unrealistic media contents make our citizens “stay a sleep”. “Some citizens are aware of their addiction, but cannot resist using media, like drunks are unable to stop consuming alcohol”, states Ljubisa Bojic for Morning Program at National Television of Serbia. There are two types of media addicts: those who feel liberated without media access and those who feel happy with media access.
As for relation between demographics and media addiction, older and unemployed people show higher rates of media addiction.
“We need to rethink social role of media”, said Ljubisa Bojic. He added that results of this research put forward key questions of social representation. “Does great volume of negative news in media represent reality in a valid manner? What is the effect of “do more for less time in shallow way” philosophy of some content creators to the quality of media programs? Does this have anything to do with media addiction levels? In this sense, what is the effect of emotionally empty contents and constructed objectivity which is all too present in today’s media? These would be the topics of our future research inquiries”, concludes Ljubisa Bojic.
Initiative of Positive Center for Digital Media has been supported by Republic of Serbia’s Ministry for Culture, Media and Information Society.
After the presentation of research results, moderator of the conference Anita Todorovic highlighted the role of Media Center Belgrade in implementation of Positive Center’s program. She also noted interest of Institute for Political Studies in Grenoble concerning involvement in future media addiction researches.
Svetozar Rakovic, Secretary General of Serbian Independent Journalist Association commented on how these research results could be used by media content creators.
Dr Zora Krnjaic and dr Ivana Stepanovic Ilic introduced research results of the Institute for Psychology at Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade concerning personal traits of media users.
Dr Dubravka Valic Nedeljkovic talked about research done by Department for Media Studies at Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad, concerning the use of TV by kids.
Zoran Ilic, director of multimedia project My Hero elaborated on how their new media journalism is setting example for mainstream media.
Ljubisa Obradovic, editor in chief of Serbian National Broadcasting Corporation web portal talked about role of his media in realization of education component of Positive Center’s program.
Photo by Alan Cleaver