Regulators! Mount Up!

Far from Warren G’s and Nate Dogg’s idea of it, media regulation is a common practice in the interconnected society we live in. Often socially driven, we deem there is specific times and places where we can use and view the media we consume. This tension manifests at meal times, waiting rooms and especially on public transport.

This regulation stems from 2 general ideas. Firstly, inappropriate media use is highly annoying, inadvertently invasive and pretty rude. I.e I’m sick of serving customers who are on their phone, talking at it and then ask “didn’t you get that”. Secondly and probably more interestingly (and possibly more on topic) is the idea that we want to regulate for people who can’t protect themselves, generally the young and the elderly.

In my own life I can remember not being able to watch certain shows (The Simpsons, South Park etc.) or use certain devices and see and read certain magazines (no not those) due to being of a young age. Similar things still hold true as I will regulate the shows my nephews will watch or the games they play to suit a deemed age appropriateness  for them. Other people who I know will take their child’s Ipad, phone and laptop away to punish or regulate how much time their children can use the media for

It would also seem that I and other people are not alone in the plight to regulate how and when the children they know use their content. In a study by Lenhart et al (2010) parents regulation of their child’s cell phone shows that this is a fairly common practice, especially considering the rather standard numbers across both the demographics and income regulators.

Similarly regulating older people’s media particularly social media has become common practice. I’ll often have lengthy conversations with my Mum about what she writes and shares on Facebook and how it could harm and effect other people.  Often my siblings and I might even say “It might be a little too technologically advanced for you Mum”. This type of media regulation is only to protect her from something we’ve deemed as too hard or beyond her ability, almost as if she were a child. Although we probably aren’t justified in doing this, we deem it necessary, like a lot of other regulatory boards e.g. ACMA.

Where this regulation takes on new meaning is when we think about it in relation to space and place. Due to the blending of the public and private spaces we inhabited our areas are inherently connected. While we think that something we post in our own private space is innocent or warranted it could do harm to others that intend to look at it. This is often regarded the other way when we consider children and their use of media outside of the private space. I would say that some media is often used as a tool of entertainment and fun in the public space, for parents to keep their children distracted. Yet, in private, over consumption of media is seen as lazy or introversion and should be regulated.

Hence the real tension in media regulation is context. Contextually, when is it ok to use media and what media can you use in that time. When does using your devices become OK and what deems that action to be allowed. Surely if we are alone, with no one around use of our device affects nobody even if social provisions state otherwise. In other words, let me sit at the sushi train by myself and play on my phone, without looking down on me.


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