MIDDLESBROUGH, England, April 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --
Theresa May's refusal to appear in television debates during the General Election campaign may be smarter than it appears, according to researchers examining society's use of digital technology.
Academics behind the Screen Society project say the influence of TV and the traditional media has been surpassed by digital technology as the most important means of communication.
And, as with Donald Trump's success in America, social media, not mainstream media, could prove pivotal for shaping public perception in the upcoming General Election.
Screen Society is examining how people conduct relationships through smartphones, computers and tablets. It has conducted an extensive global survey with over 1,500 internet users across the world to paint a clear picture of how society really interacts with digital technology.
Now, with Theresa May confirming she will not partake in television debates, the Screen Society team believe we are witnessing a seismic shift not only in politics, but in the way information is conveyed and consumed.
Dr Kevin Dixon, from Teesside University, who is part of the Screen Society team, said: "If television glamorised politicians, the internet deglamourised them, allowing digital and social media to transform the manner in which our elected leaders address us."
Although the researchers don't think the result of the general election will be directly influenced by activity on social media, it will help to engage voters, boost turnout and provide a platform for direct debate.
The Screen Society team also found that popular stereotypes about screen addiction and the dangerous presence of trolls are largely unfounded.
Professor Cashmore, Visiting Professor at Aston University, added: "Our research shows screen or internet addiction is a myth. While three out of ten users believe using smartphones and computers is addictive, the majority, 70%, dismiss the orthodox view of medical practitioners, researchers and other experts who warn of the dangers involved in habitual screen use."
And on the subject of trolls, rather than being a menace to society, they are widely ridiculed and regarded as a laughing stock by internet users.
"There have been a small number of cases in which trolls have made the lives of some people intolerable," explained Dr Dixon.
"But our study indicates most internet users see trolls as objects of ridicule, rather than people to fear."
The second phase of the research is launched today. To take part in the study, visit http://bit.ly/-Screen2
SOURCE Teesside University Press Office