The scene above is an all too frequent occurrence in todays mobile society.
Some of our youth are no longer able to function in groups unless they are protected by a pseudonym, avatar, or anonymous tag. Some are unable to communicate without using hash tags. Having a face to face conversation with a teenager can be tricky if you don’t know the latest acronyms and using them as an adult often gets you the puzzled or piteous expression. It has created a chasm between the older and younger generations that may not be possible to bridge.
Listening to some of their conversations I am reminded of “Newspeak” from the George Orwell novel 1984. I get lost and just have to laugh. In someways these kids are learning more than I did, albeit not all of it is good. With the easy access to pornography, criminal activities, and cyberbullying, we should wonder if the benefits out-weigh the pitfalls. This problem does not only affect the youth, there are several adults that seem to have a hard time separating their digital world from IRL. Topic of conversation at work and at home revolve around what so and so posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vine. When the topic of weather, gardening, or hiking come up some people almost seem to zone out because that is not an app that they have downloaded.
As a teacher and father I know all to well the distracting and time-consuming effects of the hand-held device. Most of the arguments and tears in our house centered around the iPad, and in class I was constantly asking the young men to put away their devices. I would always get the standard “I need them for the scriptures”. This instigated a “paper scriptures only” rule in class.
The educational benefits of mobile devices can not be disputed. There are so many ways to build knowledge and skills but the call for distraction can sometime be too much. The vast amounts of information available anywhere you are is helpful until you rely on that to survive. If you can’t google how to ride a bus, or how to do your laundry we may see a whole crowd of stinky clothed pedestrians clogging the intersection. 😉
Now with the most popular gaming company ever slated to put their games on smart devices it may now be harder to pry them from the hands of many. It will be harder to detect whether the person is doing knowledge building tasks or forever rescuing the princess in the latest Zelda or Mario Saga. To be perfectly honest I will probably be someone that would enjoy the app to take me back to the good old days of the NES, but worry about what degree of impact it will take on our already over-stimulated society.
So as with everything in life take all things in moderation, put down the cell phone, take a walk with the kids, go fishing, or take the kids to the park to run their almost endless supply of energy down.