A Techies Holiday Shopping Warning

By David Coursey  |  Posted 2004-12-23 Print this article Print

Opinion: We have an epidemic of violence in this county. Video games and television help desensitize us to human tragedy. This needs to stop.

OK, I love technology and have spent a lot of money on it. My TiVo and XM Satellite Radio are among my prized possessions. That is, if you dont include my Canon Digital Rebel camera or the iPod whose earbuds sometimes follow me around almost like a tail. Did I mention the cool Treo 600 PDA/phone? Sure, I wrote a blog about it. And Ive met very few GPS devices I didnt like. What do I want next? A wireless home weather station, so I can have real-time weather on my Web site during wildfire season. But that will be a spring purchase. I dont just buy technology for myself but also as holiday presents. This year, I paid special attention to what I bought for young people. No more video games or DVDs on my list. This year I bought gifts that are a lot less exciting than those Ive handed out in years past.
Mix technology with education and entertainment, and some very unexpected things can happen. Or maybe they werent so unexpected, if only wed bothered to think in advance about the likely result of our actions. Thats what I am trying to do this year.
I am not giving media or games to little children because fast-moving and quickly changing images are being linked to attention deficit disorder (from which I suffer myself). It makes sense that after too much fast-moving television and games that the real world would seem slow and uninteresting. Like so many other things, this hasnt been proved, but I expect it will be. So why risk it? I want the kids Im buying for to have plenty of attention to give their reading, spelling and math. I know what its like not to have it. Some people say that television doesnt contribute to antisocial behavior committed by its viewers. They believe that violent television doesnt contribute to a more violent culture. They say viewers—even young children—can separate the fantasy of TV from "real life." I wont bore you with real-world examples of copycat violence from TV and the movies but will simply point out that if television doesnt affect behavior, what are all those advertisers paying for? TVs ability to sell simply doesnt stop when the commercial break ends. Kids (and adults) mimic what they see in the media. Next Page: Video games reportedly create "hyper-lethal" criminals.

One of technology's most recognized bylines, David Coursey is Special Correspondent for eWeek.com, where he writes a daily Blog (blog.ziffdavis.com/coursey) and twice-weekly column. He is also Editor/Publisher of the Technology Insights newsletter and President of DCC, Inc., a professional services and consulting firm.

Former Executive Editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk, Coursey has also been Executive Producer of a number of industry conferences, including DEMO, Showcase, and Digital Living Room. Coursey's columns have been quoted by both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and he has appeared on ABC News Nightline, CNN, CBS News, and other broadcasts as an expert on computing and the Internet. He has also written for InfoWorld, USA Today, PC World, Computerworld, and a number of other publications. His Web site is www.coursey.com.

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