The use of cell phones and texting in movie theaters has been become an ugly epidemic thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, and if the 18-34 year old demographic has any say in the matter, it’s about to become not only more popular -- but socially acceptable.
At least that’s what the findings of a recent study by Penn Schoen Berland has revealed. The research, commissioned by The Hollywood Reporter, paints an interesting picture about how social media has infiltrated many facets of our lives and how most of us now view an evening Tweeting or posting Facebook updates as entertainment.
According to the results, 9 out of 10 respondents view social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as a form of entertainment. More than half of all respondents consider the sites important tastemakers in deciding what to buy and watch. Less surprising to anyone who’s had social media users spoil The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad while it’s airing, 80% of television viewers are using Facebook while they watch their favorite programs.
The findings are based on a poll of 750 social media users aged 13-49 and indicate a change in the way viewers are discovering and consuming their media. The question: Is this a genuine shift or a bump in the road?
Perhaps the most interesting revelation in the study is this: a “majority” of 18-34 year olds think that using social media while watching a movie in the theater would add to their experience – and nearly half of those respondents would be interested in going to a theater that allowed texting and web browsing during the film.
Pollster Jon Penn explains this weird phenomenon. “Millennials want their public moviegoing experience to replicate their own private media experiences. Having dedicated social-media-friendly seats, or even entire theaters, can make the moviegoing experience more relevant and enjoyable for them.”
At least in theory – most major research indicates that while young adults think they’re excellent multi-taskers because they juggle work, music, instant messaging, and Facebook all at once, they’re really losing the ability to focus on single things for an extended period of time and fostering a decrease in the ability to prioritize tasks and categorize which information is most important.
Whatever the case may be, social media is clearly changing the entertainment landscape. As someone who’s Tweeted while watching sports and movies (but never spoiled anything…) I’m proof of that in action. That being said, the theater isn’t my living room – and texting and playing with your phone during a film is still incredibly inconsiderate of your fellow viewers. I guess that just makes me an outlier.
Do you use social media to discover new entertainment and discuss what’s happening in the films and television you watch? Are you in favor of theaters allowing texting and web browsing during a screening? Share your thoughts with us in our totally non-scientific survey below.