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.
A Techies Holiday Shopping Warning – Page 2
Further, the media creates an environment in which we all reside. It tells us what is “OK” and what isnt. TV shows us how to treat one another. This may sound strange coming from a writer and broadcaster, but I am not proud of the environment that TV and video games have created.
I am very concerned about reports that video games have helped create a new breed of hyper-lethal criminal. Read the news and youll see reports of young people, especially, managing to kill someone with a single bullet to the head. The reason they do this, according to critics of media violence and my friends in law enforcement, is because thats how video games teach them to kill. Its the “professional” way.
Experts say the natural human inclination is not to shoot someone in the head, the part of our bodies that makes us most recognizable as humans. There is also a natural tendency to continue firing until the victim goes down.
Shooters who kill with single shots to the head are going against basic instinct and doing so because theyve been taught how. Is this really the sort of thing we want anyone—beside soldiers and law enforcement—to learn? Then why do we allow video games to teach this to our children? Including some games that I understand are outgrowths of military training software and funded, in part, by tax dollars.
No, I am not saying that everyone who gets a copy of Grand Theft Auto is going on to a life of crime, but a few will, and simply being exposed to such violence numbs us to what happens to real people in the real world.
We have an epidemic of violence in this county. Video games and television help desensitize us to human tragedy. This needs to stop.
Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.