Digital media and society

Implications in a hyperconnected era.

We need only look to our own experience – at home, in public spaces and at work – to see that technological innovation and digitization are fundamentally reshaping our public, private and professional lives. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, and the Media, Entertainment and Information (MEI) Industries are at the core of this transformation; they provide the digital tools, services, applications and content we engage with, increasingly anytime and anywhere.

The emerging digital MEI offerings are the main driver to smartphone, tablet and other connected device adoption, as well as to our changing relationship with many other elements of daily life, such as health, consumer products and mobility. Around the world, people now spend more time using laptop computers and smartphones than they do in other daily activities, and our “connected time” is on the rise. This is referred to by the World Economic Forum as hyperconnectivity, and it will continue to affect how we interact with one other, how we learn and work, in ways that are both profound and impactful.

MEI businesses have greatly benefited from the digital transformation of their industry, but the challenges of content and service congestion and of rapidly evolving end-user needs and preferences cannot be ignored. No individual, enterprise or government can afford to be unaware of the implications that the growing use of digital media, entertainment and information content and services (“digital media”) will have on industry and society. MEI enterprises must continue to innovate to keep pace with the emerging media consumer who continually challenges industry business models and offerings. At the same time, we must begin planning for how our increased connection to digital media is and will continue to change the very fabric of our society.

With this Digital Media and Society report, the World Economic Forum strives to raise general awareness, catalyse further discussion and stimulate action from its readers. Much can be done by decision-makers in
both the public and private sectors to foster the positive implications of increased digital media use and to recognize and address its potentially unfavourable impacts. However, as much as public-private cooperation can improve the lives of citizens, in the context of hyperconnectivity much of this responsibility lies in the hands of the individual. As such, the report has been designed to speak to all types of readers. Whether the reader is a parent, a senior company executive or a government policy-maker, this study provides facts, figures and supporting evidence to all its claims, and includes tangible recommendations to all stakeholders for action.

We hope this collective effort by an extensive group of organizations and individuals will stimulate further consideration of, and research into, the implications of ever- increasing digital media use in our lives. Through action, partnership or further research, the ultimate objectives of the World Economic Forum are to ensure that an increasingly connected lifestyle remains an asset to business, individuals and society rather than a liability, and that all stakeholders benefit from our work and insights. 

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