Applied Entertainment: Positive Uses of Entertainment Media

Reference work entry


This chapter considers the role of entertainment media in education, health, and quality of life. Because of its potential to affect our well-being, entertainment can be seen as a public health issue. When freely chosen, entertainment can produce desired states such as relaxation or arousal and can induce the range of human emotions that enrich daily life. The emotional and social satisfactions provided by entertainment are supplemented by their impact on executive functioning and health.

Entertainment serves the range of “uses and gratifications” familiar to media students (cognitive, social, emotional/physiological).

Among the cognitive benefits of entertainment media are the maintenance or improvement of problem solving and enhanced perceptual skills. Listening to music or watching television can produce positive cognitive effects. Music, in addition to its mood management function, also affects brain development, language, and cognitive development.

One undeniable feature of play is fun. Positive emotions, including humor, contribute to a sense of well-being and health.

Video gaming can be beneficial for brain development and functioning. The positive effects of video gaming may also prove relevant in therapeutic interventions targeting psychiatric disorders, particularly depression. Studies of the noninstitutionalized elderly suggest that digital games can speed reaction time and may positively influence executive function and have social and emotional benefits. Exergames are a substitute for physical exercise when outdoor play is not feasible.

If entertainment is a public health issue, it is largely in the area of mental health that it has its greatest impact. Enjoying music, a film, a video game, or a You Tube video can improve mood, strengthen friendships, and increase competence.

Digital entertainment media have been used in basic scientific research. Games can teach STEM subjects efficiently by reaching a large audience.


Entertainment Video games Film Television Music Humor Health Education 

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© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Cultural InquiryUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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