The Game. It was the 106th episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The basic premise of that episode is this…Wesley Crusher returns from vacation at Starfleet Academy to the Enterprise. He is shocked and frightened to learn that everyone is playing an addictive, mind-controlling game which the Ktarians distributed to gain control of the Enterprise. Eventually he is captured and becomes addicted to the Game, only to be saved by Commander Data at the last moment.
Present Day Earth. When I was a child, the Atari 2600 made its debut, and I had one. Many a summer day was spent playing the mind-numbing games on this early console system. Later, I graduated to the C-64 and later the C-128…finally succumbing to the PC craze. Luckily my addiction to electronic gizmos stopped there and I was not seduced into the whole luxury Mac Market.
At any rate, take today’s kids. They start off with a PC that is 1000 times more capable than my od C-64 was when I was a teen. They have Internet at speeds faster than 10-Base-T in some cases. I had 300 baud dialup, if that. The kids these days also have their cell phones from an early age, and a split-off version of the English language has taken hold with today’s teens…the slang of SMS text messages. But even though SMS text messaging (and comprehensive aptitude testing) is destroying the minds of millions of teens, there came along another intrepid device…the smartphone. Combining the features of a full-fledged PC in a tiny form factor, the smartphone devices (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc) delivers…broadband access, in your face content…you name it.
But there is one small catch…these things are destroying families. Kids these days don’t simply “want” these devices…they “need” them. And when I say need…I mean there is a real need for these kids to connect to society vicariously through these cold, metal devices. Social interaction is still available for the kids, but they prefer the instant connectivity they get from their mobile devices…I have seen kids sitting no more than 2 feet apart from one another in the barber shop texting each other versus simply talking.
The addiction to texting, clandestine hush-toned talks with friends and the outmoded phone conversation has taken hold of kids everywhere. Kids cannot go anywhere without being connected to their carrier network. Good manners are being destroyed by these in-your-face teens who are used to texting one another with brutal honesty. Texting versus talking is destroying the basis of human dialogue. Interpersonal communication is out, followed by good old communication with parents. The family itself is being assaulted. The English language is under assault. Social and societal norms are under attack. Kindness, caring, tenderness, and compassion are byproducts of human interaction and dialogue…and they are being bypassed by direct thought-to-text comms.
The only person smiling all the way to the bank is the cell phone providers. The average SMS text message is 140 bytes, with a 160 byte hard limit. The average adult sends 357 texts a month while the typical teen sends closer to 8,000. This is a miniscule amount of data, comparitively, and the profit margin for the cell giants is HUGE. Yes, people, your kids are being sold out. I urge you, if you are a parent, to rerstrict your child’s SMS /cell usage. The benefits are enormous…and they will cost you time & patience with your kid. Something you should have thought about before you had the kid in the first place.