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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.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
7th May, 2009 08:17 (UTC)
I don't read books for very long without getting bored now. I used to be happy reading for hours. I don't know whether that's the influence of the Future or not.
7th May, 2009 21:10 (UTC)
Likewise, I find a tend to read for a bit, wonder off do something else (e.g. making a cup of tea), come back read a bit more, go off do something else.

I'm sure I used to be able to read for longer without a break, no idea if that's the internet though.
(Deleted comment)
7th May, 2009 21:11 (UTC)
I could believe that

That is until the climate changes and we all start killing each other for food and then drown when the ice-caps melt. I'd imagine that might be a little less safe...
7th May, 2009 21:25 (UTC)
There's always been some Dreadful Thing that the media has seized on as corrupting the youth of today though, this reminds me of the big controversy about 'video nasties' in the 80s.
I think it's a mixture of nature and nurture - most people who play 'violent' games or watch horror films don't go out and kill people, but I think in some people who have violent tendencies already these games or films can affect them in a way they don't affect 'normal' people. Similarly most people can have a couple of drinks without becoming alcoholics or bet on the Grand National without becoming gambling addicts, but a minority of people can't.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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