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With the research in visual media trends it was hard to pinpoint a trend that has continued for a long period of time. However, with the increasing development, availability and cost effectiveness of technology most of the current trends reflect a more common global use of portable, internet enabled devices. The key categories for visual media trends include the youth culture, social media, user generated content and more personal choice for media content.
The biggest consumers of media today are youth. Youth in the U.S. age 12-17 increased their television viewing by 3% in a year (eg. Nielson 2006). Across cultures youth are using visual media to interact, teach and share their experiences with each other.
The most growth over the last few years in media trends has been in the area of relational social media. Social media is any communications format where the users publish the content (eg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media). Most of this media is Internet and mobile device driven. Social media provides a new way to interact with others. These methods are becoming even more preferred over e-mail. More than 70% of Americans age 15-34 (eg. http://www.frankwbaker.com/mediause.htm) are using social networks online. The most trafficked social websites include Facebook and MySpace. This demographic is choosing text messaging on their cell phones and computers over live conversations. Also, there is new interest in what is called “virtual community” in which social networks are being created through the website Second Life.
User generated media content has grown in popularity. The idea was first made popular by YouTube, which gave the ability for someone to upload “home made” videos to the website for the whole world to view. YouTube became the 5th most popular website in 2006 with over 100 million video viewed daily on the website (eg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube). The major television networks and major companies have created advertising campaigns centered around user generated videos. New websites like Joost.com are hosting network and cable television shows that you can watch on your computer and through various widgets users can interact with their friends about the show they are watching.
Christian’s use of media continues to grow. According to Barna Research there are a greater number of Christian adults that are experiencing through media than through a local church. Two out of three adults used a least one form of religious media- radio, television or books in the last month. Were as six out of ten American adults attended a church service in the last month (eg. http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=116). Christian parents over the Christmas season purchased media products like CDs, DVDs and video games for their children under thirteen even though they didn’t feel comfortable with their purchase. The Christians in the United States were likely to spend up to $1 billion on these products despite their concern over the moral content for children under 18. Also, Christian television continues to draw interest by viewers and today one out of every six adults are spending time on faith-based websites. There is more interest by the younger generation and certain groups of people in these types of websites over watching faith-based television or listening to Christian radio. (eg. http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=184).