Avidly Reads Screen Time
by Phillip Maciak
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Pub Date 16 May 2023 | Archive Date Not set
What happens when screen time is all the time?
In the early 1990s, the phrase “screen time” emerged to scare parents about the dangers of too much TV for kids. Screen time was something to fret over, police, and judge in a low-grade moral panic. Now, “screen time” has become a metric not only for good parenting, but for our adult lives as well. There’s even an app for it! In the streaming era—and with streaming made nearly ubiquitous during COVID-19—almost every aspect of our day is mediated by these bright surfaces. Whether it was ever the real villain in the first place, or merely a convenient proxy for unaddressed familial, social, and institutional failures, screen time is now all the time.
Avidly Reads Screen Time is a funny, insightful work of cultural criticism and history about how we define screens, and how they now define us. From Mad Men to iCarly, Vine to FaceTime, binge-watching to doom-scrolling, Phillip Maciak leads us on a sometimes heartwarming, sometimes harrowing tour of the media that brings us together and tears us apart.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 2 members
Avidly Reads Screen Time, by Phillip Maciak, is a very good addition to this series. A look at what screen time is, has been, and what we might expect.
This offers an interesting perspective on what screen time has been over the years and how it has evolved into an age where screens really are everywhere. From TVs to personal computers (my first coming in 1989, not counting the old TRS-80 I had) to the internet, which made tablets, smartphones, and the many other connected screens we know and (sometimes) love possible. From that hardware came the various apps, programs, and services that occupy our time and energy today.
Maciak doesn't so much break new ground here as bring together things we know and/or recognize so we can see them in a different light. The positive with the negative, the impact that streaming services have had on program viewing as well as what types of programming can now be produced, in part, because of it. There is no way to reasonably be only positive or negative about our current relationship with screens, and Maciak doesn't try. For every moment when I nodded about an aspect I like I found myself also lamenting an aspect I don't. Ultimately, for me, this gave me a coherent overview that let my perspective be more well-rounded and less jaded.
The writing is enjoyable with enough personal anecdote to make it fairly personal along with enough expert citations to give me a chance to delve deeper in some areas of interest. All in all, I would recommend this to any reader who wants to better understand their own relationship with their screens as well as those who enjoy media/television/popular culture studies.
Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.