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Vote with Your Eyeballs for Positive Media Content

Posted Jul 26 2010 1:12pm
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Where you look matters.  Media producers count eyeballs and show you what you will watch.  Let’s celebrate achievement, such as the fifth grade chorus from Staten Island, instead of spending our time and money consuming media about outliers, like LeBron James’ basketball contract, or irresponsibility and bad behavior, like Lindsay Lohan’s substance problems and jail sentence. It’s time we started exercising our power through viewing choice and putting the powers of emerging media technologies to work promoting the behaviors we want to see in the media for our kids to emulate–not those we can’t help but see or wish we hadn’t.

Let’s use the excitement and engagement of emerging technologies—such as augmented reality—for prosocial ends.

We are long overdue to take some responsibility for the media content we choose to support. Let your eyeballs, remotes and wallets do the talking instead of your mouth. Media has to potential to create images for aspiration and inspiration, not in looks, but in substance. We can choose to support media technologies that affirm what we want to be as individuals and as a society, instead of looking for others to blame for what “media does to us.” Believe me, media outlets pay lots of attention to how you cast your eyeballs.

The August issue of Time Out New York Kids is a perfect example. It celebrates the achievements of the Webby-Award-winning fifth grade chorus from Staten Island with an augmented reality enhancement. By viewing the magazine cover with a mobile device, such as an iPhone or a Droid with Internet access, and the freely downloadable Junaio augmented reality mobile phone app, you can experience a jubilant performance clip of the chorus on video.

This is much more important news to discuss and celebrate than LeBron James’ NBA team choice. LeBron is a great example of hardwork, but the probability of having the right opportunity, work ethic, and genetic talent to achieve at his level is about .01%. That’s not 1%–it’s 100 times LESS than that, or 1 out of 10,000.

Yet, according to a 2008 study of urban youths ages 13-18, 70% planned on careers in the NBA. No big surprise that’s an attractive dream. For the 2009-2010 season, the minimum salary was $457,588 and the average salary was $3.4 million. Each year, 50,000 African American boys play high school basketball, but less than 50 will make the NBA. To put it in perspective, the average NBA basketball arena has approximately 20,000 seats, so imagine that all the seats are filled with basketball players that showed up to play, but they only let 1 player at every OTHER game onto the floor–and he may not even get to start. All the rest get to go home, many unprepared to take advantage of other career opportunities. Celebrating other achievements, such as the P.S. 22 Chorus, emphasizes opportunities that can be available to all kids. Participation is this kind of activity not only teaches about the activity–music, singing, beat, and teamwork in this case– but it demonstrates much more valuable lessons:

  1. learning takes time
  2. it is cumulative
  3. it is about effort not luck
  4. hard work is rewarding
  5. working as a team feels good

Research by shows that when we believe that our abilities can change with efforts, we try harder, and that when we have confidence in ourselves, and believe in our ability to act on our own behalf, we are more resilient and take more risks. Today’s youth are facing a world where change is the rule rather than the exception. They need much more than the ability to read, write and do simple math. They need the emotional resilience and cognitive flexibility to adapt to a changing environment and meet it as a challenge not an obstacle. It’s great that LeBron James has had such success and I’m happy for him, but the kids at PS 22 make much better role models.

Photo by AWE Photo/Jan Somm-Hammel . Retrieved from

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