Why is the Machine Changing Us?

It’s important to understand why. Why is this new media being used by people? Is it because of the feeling of autonomy or authenticity? Perhaps researching the bigger picture and overall pattern of society may help tell a clearer story of why children use new media technology.

As a former middle school and high school educator, I saw first-hand the consequences that media technologies brought upon students and the school community. It is so simple to misconstrue what others really mean, especially when texting and IMing. Take this conversation between my husband and his friend, JP.

jpestebantextconvo

Do you think Esteban was being serious when he stated, “Sorry man you’re going to have to wait until next Saturday,” or was he joking? Below is what he adds to the conversation:

jpestebantextconvo2

He uses the emoji to mediate the conversation, adding emotion. This indicates that he is joking.

I worked with many teachers who believe that media technologies affect students in negative ways, from self-esteem and identity issues to short attention span. This reminded me of the video lecture by Michael Wesch when he described the “MTV Generation.” This is not too far from what educators believe of the “Generation Me” students of today. See below:

MTV GENERATION GENERATION ME
Short Attention Span Short Attention Span
Materialistic Materialistic
Narcissistic Narcissistic
Not Easy Impressed Not Easy Impressed

From video gaming systems to Facebook, each medium of communication has underlying social rules that we all follow, including children. This leaves me wondering, why do children follow these rules? Most importantly, who created these rules? Have we, as a society, shape the use of media technologies or do the head honchos of these powerful billion dollar technology corporations create them? We can go on forever debating this question but in the end, we do have a social responsibility as a community to address the consequences of ICT. We have to be conscious and responsible for our actions and relay this message to future generations.

As a graduate student pursuing a degree in design and development of digital games, I want to understand why children use this new media technology, specifically in video gaming systems and online gaming communities that enable online chatting. I feel that it is part of my responsibility to evaluate the social shaping process of these media technologies in order to inform teachers, parents, and schools to take action to better serve the community.

Watch the videos and read the article below! What do you think? Comments are always welcome.

Introduction to the Updated Student Edition” by Lievrouw & Livingstone (2006)

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