- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2019

It is news that publicity teams and social media mavens don’t want to hear: Tweeting while watching TV diminishes enjoyment.

“Live-tweeting has potential pitfalls on audience experience,” reports a new University of Connecticut study which monitored the experiences of those who watched one screen while tapping feverishly on another.

That is a lot of people. More than half of television viewers ages 18 to 24 — a coveted TV audience — use a second, web-connected device for engaging on social media to chat about what they are watching. The practice has an impact.

“Toggling between viewing entertainment and social media lessens a person’s ability to escape reality and enjoy a show,” said the study, conducted by the university’s Department of Communication and published in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, an academic source.

The most significant impact of the two-screen experience was on viewers’ ability to “transport” into the narrative and become immersed in the televised story, they found.

“Despite its popularity, live-tweeting has potential pitfalls on audience experience,” said Saraswathi Bellur, assistant professor in communication, who led the research.

It compared the experience of 230 young viewers; half live-tweeted a showing of the classic sitcom “Friends” — and half did not.

“Compared to those engaged in media multitasking, participants consuming only one medium were more likely to experience ‘transportation’ into the content and, in turn, more intensified emotions,” the study said.

“Given the prevalence of television shows that actively initiate social media conversations among viewers by promoting conversations, more research needs to be done,” the authors concluded.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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