What is the New Media Age?

The “new media age” refers to the development of interactive technologies that began during the late 20th century and has continued into the 21st century. Various forms of new media have emerged from the Internet since it first became widely-available in homes during the mid to late 1990s, including blogs, Internet video and other social networking tools. The new media age also encompasses cellular technologies and applications that are compatible with the Internet and its various platforms of interactivity. The new media age has especially changed the way people look at such issues as privacy, social interaction, and access to information.

Social media sites such as MySpace ™ and Facebook ™ have caused controversy for making their members’ personal information visible, potentially rendering them them vulnerable to identity theft, cyber stalking, and online predators. Without certain privacy settings, a member of a social networking site can unintentionally make such information as their full name, birth date, and even home address available to the public. Because of the popularity of social networking and its prevalence in modern society, many people have come to associate the new media age as a period in which children and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to privacy compromises that could threaten their safety or reputation.

For better or worse, the new media age has changed the way people communicate, most noticeably by minimizing face-to-face communication. What started out as simply “emailing” has expanded into multiple other forms of electronic communication, including instant messaging, texting, Tweeting ™, and blogging. These increasingly quicker and shorter forms of communication have given rise to a type of shorthand abbreviation also known as “text lingo.” Some criticize that this new language is negatively affecting people’s spelling and grammar abilities, particularly those who haven’t yet been educated in correct spelling and grammar.

The new media age has also made information more easily and quickly accessible for both individuals and major organizations. Large news networks such as CNN, BBC, the Associated Press, and others frequently employ such new media tools as Twitter ™, Google ™, and Wikipedia ™ to source and verify the most up-to-the-minute stories from around the world. Independent news bloggers, also known as “citizen journalists,” have carved a niche in the new media age by reporting on stories in real-time and often without the political biases typically attached to left-wing and right-wing news conglomerates.