By Shelby Greenham
Television is the first mass media I can recall avidly using. Popular children’s television shows at that time captured my attention, as well as the attention of one of my beta fish who would always turn around to face the TV whenever a show came on. Throughout my childhood it was a routine for my single mother and I to have our evening dinners together in front of the not-so-thin television set. Years later it is still a nightly tradition, and after a day of work or school, we both enjoy sitting down together and watching a good movie or TV show.
My mother is an artist and writer, so I grew up making crafts and writing silly poetry. The pastor at my church gave me Shel Silverstein’s ‘’Where the Sidewalk Ends” book of poetry and I loved it so much that I recited one of those poems for a school poetry recital. In later years, I found out that the poem I had chosen shocked some of the other parents a bit due to the fact that its theme was about a young girl eating a whale until she grew very old. I had no idea that the poem was anything but amusing when I read it. I had been fond of silly poems prior to reading this book, but it has become a very special part of my childhood and prompted me to write more poems.
One of the most significant mass media uses in my childhood were books. Reading started out as a forced endeavor by my mother, but it didn’t take me long to begin loving the activity. The Nancy Drew series by pseudonym writer Carolyn Keene was my first major foray into literature. Another important book series that shaped a large part of my childhood was Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I had never intended to read the Anne of Green Gables series because it did not sound like an appealing story – I had no knowledge about the books other than the name and front cover at the time. However, there was a class at the library that my best friend invited me to attend with her. The teacher read the book to us over the course of a few days and I fell in love. The Anne of Green Gables series encouraged me to write and shaped many aspects of my young personality. That book also spurred me to write letters to a friend of mine that I did not get to see very often even though she only lived thirty minutes away. Those letters brought us closer together and we are still best friends. Both the Nancy Drew and Anne of Green Gables series targeted young female readers as their demographic and had female protagonists. As a young female reader I fit right into the targeted demographic for these books.
In middle school I began using Facebook, my first big social media use. It started out as a potentially joint account with my skeptical mother, but ended with me being allowed my very own account. I remember being incredibly excited to join the highly buzzed about Facebook community. Facebook has a very wide demographic. It draws people who hope to reconnect with old friends, young adults keeping up to date on issues within their friend groups, and many more. At the time, I fell into the category of wanting to keep up to date on the latest happenings with people I know. If I can remember correctly, I also wanted to see the photos and posts that everyone would talk about that I wasn’t able to see without Facebook.
Another major mass medium used during my middle school years was Webkinz by Ganz. Webkinz were stuffed animals of various variety that could be purchased. Each Webkinz had a sealed code attached that allowed you to create an account on the Webkinz website. On the website, users adopted their pets by the code and explored the world of Webkinz. Over a couple years I had gotten quite a few and loved decorating the virtual homes of my Webkinz. This was a big start of my internet use as a child. Webkinz targeted middle school children as their main demographic and females were more likely to join. As a female middle-schooler, it was easy for me to fall into their target marketing demographic. According to Emily Bryson York, Webkinz became so popular and well received that other companies started to follow their lead in virtual play (York, 2007).
I was home-schooled throughout high school and the internet was a big part of my learning. I took two online Spanish courses and completed several ACE credit courses toward my college degree. The use of the internet during this time gave me a better opportunity to work toward college credits early and was very beneficial to my studies.
Only since becoming the owner of a car have I really started to utilize the mass medium of the radio. My car is on the older side and from a time when CD players were not the standard. Radio has become an integral part of my car trips on the way to work or for an errand run. It is interesting to see how certain radio stations can be similar to each other while also having a particular lean into a specific genre. Depending on the station that one chooses, the radio can target any number of demographics. The radio stations I most often choose probably target both male and female audiences in the age range of 18 to 35 year olds.
At age nineteen, I am now a member of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, have more than one email account, and am an avid user of Netflix services. I am currently taking all of my college courses at St. Petersburg College through their online system. I love to read books and look through magazines, even with the advent of e-books I prefer print and do not own an e-reader. There is a special magic to reading books in print. It seems that I am not the only person that feels this way as print readership is still higher than e-readership, according to a Pew Internet Research study says Dana Beth Weinberg (Weinburg, 2015).
(n.d.). Retrieved from Anne of Green Gables: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/anne-of-green-gables-lucy-maud-montgomery/1116649144
(n.d.). Retrieved from Shel Silverstein: http://www.shelsilverstein.com/books/where-sidewalk-ends/
(n.d.). Retrieved from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/
Weinburg, D. B. (2015, 3 3). Retrieved from Digital Book World: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2015/why-authors-and-readers-still-want-print/
York, E. B. (2007, October 8). Retrieved from Ad Age: http://adage.com/article/digital/hottest-thing-kids-marketing-imitating-webkinz/120933/