From “being tethered” to “going unplugged”: media addiction and the role of unplugging as a transformative tool of digital literacy
Authors: Gerodimos, R.
Editors: Abreu, B., Mihailidis, P., Lee, A., Melki, J. and McDougall, J.
Concerns about the effects of media on consumers have been around for as long as media themselves. The recent emphasis on the impact of new media brings to mind earlier fears about the effects of television on children. However, the extent to which many people today appear constantly ‘tethered’, or even addicted, to their digital and mobile devices has renewed our interest in the physiological, psychological and sociological side-effects of media dependence. This chapter reviews the literature and evidence on digital media uses and habits so as to map potential effects and patterns of problematic use. Furthermore, it presents evidence suggesting that practical media literacy interventions – such as participating in a 24 hour ‘unplugging’ exercise – can be very potent in facilitating reflexivity of one’s media uses, creating awareness of the benefits and risks of media use, and ultimately enabling a more balanced lifestyle.