Amy Orben on tech panics of the past

In 1941 Mary Preston published “Children’s Reactions to Movie Horrors and Radio Crime” in The Journal of Pediatrics … The American paediatrician had studied hundreds of six to sixteen-year-old children and concluded that over half were severely addicted to radio and movie crime dramas, having given themselves “over to a habit-forming practice very difficult to overcome, no matter how the aftereffects are dreaded”. Most strikingly, many of them consumed these dramas “much as a chronic alcoholic does drink” (Preston 1941).

The Director of the Child Study Association of America noted how radio was worse than any media that came before because “no locks will keep this intruder out, nor can parents shift their children away from it” (Gruenberg 1935). This view was mirrored in a parenting magazine published at the time: “Here is a device, whose voice is everywhere (…) We may question the quality of its offering for our children, we may approve or deplore its entertainments and enchantments; but we are powerless to shut it out (…) it comes into our very homes and captures our children before our very eyes” (Frank 1939; as cited in Dennis 1998).

Amy Orben – Teens, Screens and Well-Being:
An Improved Approach

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