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Monday, January 17, 2011

What were we supposed to do again?

I'd like to thank Liz for quoting the syllabus as to the actual content expected for these blogs. I went tangential on the last post, and should reign it in to the current course content.

Many of you have posted, stating your 'shock and awe' as to the use and possible abuse of technology by the generation next (or the Millenials as I recently heard them described). I too was disgusted by the seemingly apathetic parenting that allowed countless hours of 'screen time' and almost constant digital communication the subjects engaged in, while trying to multitask in a way that makes Superman look like Franklin the Turtle. I too am ready with the Luddite mobs to banish cell phones from classes and get children playing street hockey, building snow forts, and (Heaven forbid) walk to school again. Yet, I want to play the devil's advocate and look at this societal issue in another way, to see if maybe it isn't just the Millenials that have a problem.

Growing up I loved video games. I still love video games. In fact, I sometimes catch myself at 3am still playing a game I may have began five hours before. Am I an addict... yes. In fact studies have shown that the endorphine kick we get from gaming is similar to using heroine or extasy. There is a picture of my brother and I playing games on a Commodore 64 Vic 20 when I was still in one-piece pajamas. So needless to say, video gaming and a digital lifestyle has been a major part of who I am as a person. So can I blame my parents for my digital lifestyle? They always imposed healthy limits to my computer time, and encouraged me to live an active and healthy lifestyle. Looking back even further, their vice was the budding television culture. My father's family got their first T.V. when he was in his teens, and so could we say they were addicts because they watched much more T.V. than the generation before them? To take it even further, our grandparents were radio addicts, absorbing hours of radio dramas that changed the fact of entertainment.

That may have seemed like a senseless ramble, but what I am striking at is the fact that we look with disgust on a youth culture that eats and breathes a digital life, and yet if we look back through time, every generation looked at its youth as if they had lost the plot. We may not understand how youth can multitask, and text, and tweet, and blog, and surf, and watch, and play; but our parents probably didn't understand why making a pixelated Italian plumber in a red suit jump on mushrooms and slide down pipes was entertaining.

I worry about the youth of today. I worry about their health, their sedentary lifestyle, their overindulgence in the digital world, and their completely distracted and over-stimulated environment. However, I think we need to take a hard look at ourselves as a generation, and see if maybe we had some part in it, and if so, how we can help to make change.

Too Much Television


  1. When I was a child, we (my sister and I) were allowed to chose ONE show to watch per day. As we grew older, it was extended to an hour total per day. And then the magnificent happened... we got a Nintendo game system. Unfortunately our evening "technology time" was not extended to include this new entertainment. Rather, we had to choose between watching the latest Buffy episode... or play Nintendo. (granted, this was before I realized that TV shows had seasons, and that the episodes were connected...) Perhaps our parents parenting skills date us. We are becoming archaic beings as technology advances.

  2. I have to start by saying I now feel like a terrible dog owner...thanks Nathan! However I'm usually ignoring my puppy because I'm practicing or doing homework!
    I should probably tie this blog into our course though! I think you make a very good point about how technology has developed over the years, and how subsequent generations have reacted to the new developments. I never really considered the fact that past generations probably did spend much of their time sitting around the radio in the evening. I still can't help but feel that our generation probably spends more time being entertained by technology though. Our grandparents probably walked to school, came home and did homework, maybe did chores or played with friends for a while.... There probably also weren't as constant radio shows on either. Kids today come home from school, park themselves in front of the TV, and there's always something on. Then maybe they switch to the computer or play video games for a couple of hours. Look at the growing concerns about childhood obesity. I'm sure at least some of those cases are due to children spending too much time with technology, and not enough time outside. On the other hand there are now video games out there that involve physically activity -I personally think the dancing ones are a blast! I guess it's all about balance in the end. Technology as entertainment is a part of our lives, and will be a part of the lives of future generations. It can be dangerous or it can be beneficial depending on how it's used. I think we just need to make sure we're in control of the technology, instead of letting it control us.