For almost as long as television has existed as a part of our lives, it was thought of as simply TV: a box with a screen that displayed shows and sound.

Second ScreenBut as technology grew, changed, and continued to impact human behavior, more people came to watch TV with new expectations and utilized new technology. Most people watching TV are now not out of arm’s reach of their laptop, smart phone, or tablet at the same time. That device, whatever the user chooses, is commonly called “the second screen.”

It was reported in 2010 that 60% of Americans watch TV while also surfing the web on their laptops. When this study came out, networks tried to think of a way to use this to their advantage and not lose their viewer’s attention.

The 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and 2010 Emmy Awards streamed live backstage content online during their show, providing a dual experience for their viewers. Many award shows or reality TV shows also ask their viewers to talk about what they’re watching on Twitter, using a “hashtag” or the “#” sign before the subject matter.

Tweeting “watching #topchef” indicates to the producers of the show not only how many people might be plugged into the show as well as plugged in online, but also gives everyone watching the show at that time another layer of interaction in a very socially-driven world, where passive watching is not enough for the average viewer.