How Media Literacy Impacts Use of Digital Media Products

Instructor: Mary Matthiesen-Jones

Mary has worked around the world for over 30 years in international business, advertising, and market research. She has a Master's degree in International Management and has taught University undergraduate and graduate level courses .

Digital media products are all around us. Learn about the major categories of digital media products, how they are being used by consumers and businesses, and some of the issues and opportunities they present.

Changing How We Interact with the World

The term Digital Media Products, in the broadest sense, refers to the products and services that we can access through different digital devices. We access digital media products through our televisions, computers, smartphones, game consoles, and wearable technology. As digital media products become commonplace for users of all ages, they pose both issues and opportunities.

Responsible use of digital media products requires digital Media Literacy, that is, the ability to not just use the devices and access content but also the ability to analyze and evaluate the value of the content they deliver. This becomes even more complicated when smart devices become the intermediary between users and content. As users we need to understand not just the capabilities of technology but also what it should and should not do for us.

Digital Assistants

Digital Assistants use voice recognition software to connect users to all of our smart devices and appliances. Digital assistants such as Apple's Siri have been around for years but Amazon's Alexa took being a digital assistant to a new level. Alexa does more than just answer questions. Connecting through smart speakers like the Amazon Echo, users can speak commands to control devices like lights and security systems and turn on music systems as well as accessing the Internet to shop.

Digital Assistant Speaker
Digital Assistant Speaker

The usability of digital assistants is directly related to their ability to understand different voices and adapt to users' speech patterns. Security is also a concern. Having safeguards in place so, for example, a child cannot order a dollhouse by saying, ''Alexa, buy a dollhouse'' is critical when creating consumer confidence in the devices.

Streaming Media

Streaming Media is commonplace around the world. A wide variety of streaming media devices can connect your television to the Internet, allowing you to stream video and music from online services. Simple to connect using a plug-and-play model, these devices allow consumers to access both free and subscription services. The Roku Player, Google's Chromecast, Apple TV, and Amazon's Fire TV are four of the most popular streaming media devices on the market today. The challenge for consumers is no longer accessing content but selecting from content and being aware of the costs of subscription services. Subscriptions to multiple streaming services are often necessary to equal available cable subscription content. At the same time consumers, especially young adults (18-29) recognize that streaming services can provide excellent value if their media interests are narrow. Increasingly, younger adults are subscribing to streaming services and abandoning cable services altogether.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Realty (AR) connects real-life objects to virtual objects through a digital interface. The game Pokémon Go which took the world by storm has players using real world maps to search out virtual Pokémon hidden in actual physical locations.

Augmented Reality Experience
Pokémon Augmented Reality

Businesses are now using augmented reality to allow consumers to ''try'' products before they buy them. For example, in selected MAC cosmetics stores a woman can look into a special AR virtual try-on mirror and then experiment with different types of makeup before deciding what to buy. With IKEA's AR app users can select items from the catalog and see through their smartphone camera how that chair or table would look in their own home. Both IKEA and MAC are taking the guesswork away from the consumers' decision making process. For businesses this means more satisfied customers and potentially more sales.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) allows users to experience a computer generated experience that simulates a real situation or environment. Users wear a mask-like device to experience the virtual situation. Applications range from computer games and 3-D movies to training simulators.

Virtual Reality Experience
Virtual Reality Experience

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