May 7th, 2009

computer, internet, blogging

Rewired Teens

This evening I went to a talk about how the internet and computer games may be affecting how young people thing and the general consensus seemed to be, in spite of all the media hype, there's not enough evidence to come to any firm conclusions.

This has got me thinking about the whole violence and computer games thing. Thinking about it games like Doom (released in 1993) were around when I was a teenager, so saying that these types of games make children more violent is like saying my peers are more violent then previous generations, which I'm not entirely convinced about (especially when you look through the number of horrific things humans have done to each other throughout history).

OK, I never really got into Doom (much preferring to build cities or save lemmings instead), but I knew plenty of people who did and many of them I wouldn't have described as being particularly violent (or at least they kept it well hidden if they were), so I really don't see it.

There have always been toy guns and swords and things anyway, and although playing with them may not be so graphic in its violence the violence is still there when playing with them (not something I'm particularly comfortable with anyway, but children will play, it's an important part of how they learn about society), so are computer games really bringing in anything new.

OK, as computer games have developed the graphics, etc have improved and (I gather, as I don't actually play many computer games) the violence can now be much more realistically gory, but the fact remains that the violence was there back in 1993 and to be honest I can't see strong evidence to suggest that's what causes society's problems.

On the topic of the internet, it clearly does effect how we interact with each other and there have certainly been flame wars resulting from simple misunderstandings of what people have written. Although we try and get away from the fact that our discussions on here don't have the emotional backing that face-to-face conversations have even when we try to compensate using things like smilies, it's still not quite the same, but it's also a new channel of communication allowing children to interact when they otherwise wouldn't do and I think you do learn to accept the lack of emotion and try to accommodate for that when reading other opinions to an extent.

Also on the topic of the internet was the point about whether it makes our reading in general much shallower then it used to be. I would admit that a lot of the time when reading things on the internet I tend to skim them to get the general gist and just read more into them if necessary. I'm not sure how much that has affected my reading of books though, I certainly read them on a deeper level then I read most web-articles, but is it shallower then I used to? I really don't know.