IMPROVED televisions hardly seem like harbingers of social change, but this technological evolution very well may alter how some people spend their time and relate to others.
If a football game or movie is exponentially better when viewed at home than in a stadium or theater, are we more likely to withdraw into our own private worlds? If a new generation of viewers grows up watching TV on some high-definition cellphone of the future, will fewer families gather around the big set together?
Though researchers are just beginning to study the effect of HDTV on human behavior, the new technology represents what sociologists call the privatization of leisure: People are less likely to seek entertainment in public social settings.
Whats complicating the outlook for the future, UCLA sociology professor David Halle says, is the Internet.
“While people are watching their HDTV, theyre also text-messaging their friends. This is not privatization in the old sense, but now in context of this tremendous web of relationships.”