Using new media responsibly
22, January, 2007 2 Comments
aplA recent survey by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore shows that children aged between 10 and 14 are the most tech-savvy. More than 85% in this age group use computers and the Internet to play, learn and communicate. The finding is not surprising. This would be the group to have grown up and been socialised in a highly technological environment filled with PCs, laptops and other gadgets.
While the use of technology is part of their daily lives, it is a concern that many are spending too much time, as much as up to 18 hours a day playing online games such as MapleStory. Don’t they sleep, eat, go to school? And this doesn’t just afflict those aged between 10 and 15!
Just a few days ago, an older teen, 17 year-old, Garyl Tan, was charged with being a Wi-Fi mooch. He had tapped into an unsecured network to get online access to play the game, when his parents had stopped him from playing it at home.
This case has created a controversy. Many have questioned whether it’s illegal to mooch and if the person who allowed his network to be unsecured to be the guilty party instead. That aside, what really caught my attention was the description of the boy cycling around his neighbourhood with his laptop, cruising for an unsecured network! It totally reeks of desperation and madness. It’s little wonder he has been sent for psychiatric treatment for his addiction.
The worrying thing is, how many more of such youngsters are there out there? They seriously need help. Especially at a time when online games are touted as the next big educational tool! The concept of playing as learning is not a new one, but what’s new is the use of online games, as seen in Learning by Joystick. It’s important for children to be taught how to keep some balance in their lives as they play and learn, so that they don’t succumb to gaming addiction.
Another group of people who need help are those who think they can wield the power of new media with impunity. There was yet another recent controversy about the posting of a video online of a couple engaging in a sex act on the bus: bus-sex videotaping. What’s worse? Having sex on the bus, or taping it and showing it to the world? In a separate incident overseas, a beating of a girl was posted online. It’s not sure if this is another case of happy slapping. Or if the person who caught it on camera simply wanted to show it to the world instead of helping the victim. Or is this a new form of citizen journalism where the citizen journalist goes round looking for a story, not unlike traditional journalists. And not unlike traditional journalists, they face the dilemma: do they interfere or intervene in an event, or do they simply act as the recorders of the event?