I watched an interesting documentary by Frontline on Netflix today. It was called “Growing Up Online” and basically asked “just how radically is the Internet transforming the experience of childhood?”


While the documentary seemed to focus on the social networking component of the Internet, it did show a couple of the teenagers playing video games and in one scene there were even several youngsters having a no kidding LAN party.


Overall the show was decent. It offered a fairly mixed selection of characters…from the strict mother (President of the PTA) who made her kids use the computer downstairs in the kitchen in the presence of one of the parents to some pretty cool and tech savvy teachers who insisted on having classrooms equipped with state of the art technology to make learning as fun as possible. One teacher actually made a strong argument for the technology, suggesting that the youth of today are subjected to so much dynamic media (TV, commercials, games, etc) that if a learning environment wants to compete and keep the student’s attention then it has to be a medium that they are familiar with and enjoy. There was another old school teacher who said she would be retiring because of the impact technology has had and her resistance to accept it. (Good, we don’t need teachers like that…)


As I type this blog…and think about this subject…I realize...


I’m a 37 year old male adult. I’m wearing a T-shirt that says, “Still plays video games” on it. I’ve been a gamer for 25+ years. I remember when the Internet started and company’s started listing their URL (www.yourcompanyhere.com) on their products. I stayed up until 2:00 AM last night playing Bad Company 2. I’ve got a Facebook page; a Myspace page; a Twitter account…I’ve got a wife and 3 kids…and we’re all gamers…and we’re all into social networking…and we’re all into the Internet.


By the world’s standard (at least today’s worldly standard)…I’m sure I am doing everything wrong. The kids have Internet access in their rooms, they play too much video games, they have more online friends then they do real friends and at least one (but maybe two) wants to work in the entertainment (possibly video game) industry.


I’ve heard all the accusations…gamers are lazy, fat, anti-social, introverted, have mental disorders, are prone to violent behavior, are wasting their lives away, don’t do anything productive with their time, and are losers.


I heard people in this documentary have this impression; I’ve heard people at work have this impression; I’ve read articles by people (even the “experts”) who have this impression…while I don’t know that it is the general consensus of society as a whole, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were.


The truth is, a lot of these people who stereotype and judge gamers or people who otherwise spend their time online don’t understand technology or are intimidated by technology, so they assume it’s ALL bad.


They couldn’t be more wrong.


Now, I know there is a lot of “bad stuff” on the Internet – and yes, that even means there are bad people on the Internet. But you know what? Life is full of bad people. There were bad people before the Internet. Long before the Internet.


I dunno…I just try and teach my kids right and wrong…support their dreams (no matter how crazy they may seem LOL) and keep an eye on them because they’re going to make mistakes from time to time. Being strict, unsupportive and controlling never seems to work.


We’re at a crossroads though, if you ask me. I think I am standing in the middle. We are reaching a point where the older generation is on its way out and the new generation is on its way end. There are a lot of folks out there like me who are somewhat older but have a lot of the technological interests and abilities the younger generation has. But we will eventually get to a point…where everyone (or at least a large majority of everyone) is somewhat adept with technology…I’ll even go as far as…one day…everyone will be a gamer…to some degree or other. Statistics say –YES.


Think about it…if you’re a young gamer now…(probably the last thing you’re thinking about is having kids…but trust me…it happens) but when you grow up and have kids…are you going to encourage your children to play video games and/or embrace technology? Probably...


It’s funny…I happened to catch a preview for Celebrity Apprentice last night. They showed a clip where the former Governor of Illinois (Yeah Blago, however you spell his name…the one that was fired for corruption) was trying to type on a computer. He was using the old two finger hunt and peck method. This is the former Governor of Illinois and he can’t even type correctly…what the heck?!?


Our world and the reliance on technology is rapidly evolving. I remember when jobs used to advertise computer skills or computer background a plus. Now, it’s not required, it’s assumed. Keeping technology out of the hands of the next generation in order to “protect them” is actually hurting them.


I guess the point of all of this is I find it somewhat annoying and hypocritical when society judges “young people” for engaging in such behavior but are oblivious to it or just dismiss it altogether when the same behavior occurs in an older crowd.


I dare someone to accuse me of being lazy, fat, anti-social, introverted, have mental disorders, am prone to violent behavior, that I’m wasting my life away, I don’t do anything productive with my time, and am a loser.


Okay…I might be a loser. Might. LOL.


Gaming. Social Networking. Online Activity.


It’s not a crime.