The four panellists in the final session before lunch came from the International School in Geneva and provided an excellent and stimulating debate. The admirably lucid and thought-provoking 16 and 17 year olds did not have televisions in their rooms, relying on laptops or iPads for content consumption.
So what is the role of the television set? Does it have a social role, or no role at all? The living room television is seen as a way for families to get together, around sports and event television. It was not seen as in any way important in their lives. The iPhones are always with them, and status updates and social communication is always to hand.
They were then asked how they learned to develop trusted sources of knowledge. One quoted the recent viral Kony 2012 campaign, which she saw online first but then followed up with research to find out the background and learned that the organisation behind it was less than transparent.
Another suggested that by comparing a variety of sources online a more rounded view could be reached, with at least some of the bias eliminated. A third saw a virtue in the Wild West environment of the internet. Verifying information will become a huge part of information-gathering in future. Maybe the comments section following an article is as important in evaluating stories as the article itself.
The Occupy Wall Street protest was also quoted as an example, in that, it was suggested, it took days for the established news media to even acknowledge its existence. He was concerned about corporate influence on broadcast news, and tended to trust readit.com as a more reliable source. A more reliable and honest news service would be a wish for the future.
Moving from information to entertainment, how interesting is that to young people? Yes, it is a great source of entertainment and a way of relaxing – which followed up Ingrid’s comments earlier – but the choice can be overwhelming and they have a sense of having to ration themselves in their consumption. That could be because they are very driven students, though.
Looking to the future, what would be the one wish? Television to be more accessible through the internet, with easier and legal access to stream it wherever you are. A closer relationship between producers and audiences would be also be good.
Everyone is interconnected socially on a global scale, and this will affect the longer term future of media. Content might be more widely created and distributed without the intervention of large media enterprises. Media will also be more integrated into our lives, said one, citing the Google idea of augmented reality glasses. That will link in to more or less universal Wifi wherever you go, along with widespread cloud storage, allowing free access to data.
In response to a question about whether they will be owners of television sets in 10 years’ time, there was a genuine lack of understanding. When the question was rephrased to talk about quality, there was an acceptance that the television was essentially a social device and it was the big shared screen rather than the quality which was important.