The iPod — a shield, weapon, or both?

IPod_wheelWhether you see the iPod as a defence mechanism or a means of exhibiting aggression may depend on your point of view. Two recent academic studies address these possibly conflicting, and yet perhaps complementary viewpoints.

The first paper, ‘The Portable Music Player as a Defense Mechanism’ was published in the Journal of Radio & Audio Media in 2010, and describes how experiments were conducted to determine if an iPod might somehow be used to ‘defend’ against certain kinds of intruders.

“Respondents were asked how they would react, in terms of their iPods and earbuds, if approached by someone that interested them, somewhat interested them or did not interest them. Results suggested that respondents reacted differently the less the approaching person interested them, signifying a defensive mechanism somewhat akin to that employed by cellular phone users.”

As a contrast, a more recent paper examines instead the iPod’s contribution to ‘passive mp3 listening’ – and in particular “ … the unique elements of passive listening which make it different from many other acts of musical violence …”

See: ‘Assaulted by the iPod: The Link between Passive Listening and Violence.’ Popular Music and Society, Volume 34, Issue 1, 2011

“In response to the rise in the number of MP3 players in use, and anecdotal evidence of their annoyance value, this paper examines the link between passive MP3 player listening and violence. In examining the link, it first presents the concept of a “passive listener,” then looks at the issue of control and choice, and the different levels to which these are present in controlled and passive listening. It then examines the unique elements of passive listening which make it different from many other acts of musical violence, before summarizing the effect on the passive listener. Finally, the paper suggests strategies to minimize the effects of passive listening as a form of violence, before suggesting areas for further research.”


Aside from attack /defence, what alternative uses may be found for an i-Pod ? For inspiration, see : “Stick It In Your Ear: The Psychodynamics of iPod Enjoyment,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 5 (2008): 135-157. Joshua Gunn and Mirko M. Hall,


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