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28 September, 2009

Techno Kids.

Talking to a neighbour at the weekend he told me that as a reward to his son, for something, he is buying him a playstation 3. They have a playstation 2 but a playstation 3 will do whatever a playstation 2 does but better, or was that faster or in more colours or something.

What is it about technology that gets people so hooked that as soon as a new Xplaymultibox3LCD comes out they have to buy it even though they have just bought the Xplaymulti2LCD.

When computers first became the thing to have at home, as a toy, there was the ZX80 then things like the BBC computer, Commodore64 and so on. We were quite happy spending an evening typing in lines of Basic code from a computer magazine then delighting in trying to run it, changing the mistakes, re-checking it and eventually playing a game as simple as say battleships against the computer. It was excellent fun to us then so why would a child today if told to type the code first be so put off with the idea. Why was something so much fun not even be considered today.

People have not changed but technology has. I feel a little, I don't quite know what it is , annoyed or confused or something along that ilk that today any child can turn on his computer and instantly have access to the entire world but he knows nothing about computers.
I spent hours with a modified ZX80 hooked into my 2metres amateur radio kit desperately trying to get radio teletype to word and establish a contact with someone in the USA. I spent just as long writing Basic programs to make the computer do really quite pointless things but learning the fundamentals of how a computer works, how programing had to be structured etc and how a computer calculated decisions.

Do children today even know what Basic as a programming language is, have they the slightest idea how their Xbox works. Does it even matter, are we better people for having to learn computers from the start.
It goes deeper than computers it is now part of life that children and young people have to have the latest flashiest fastest gizmo as soon as it comes out even if they have a gizmo that does exactly the same thing already.

It may be progress but what progress is it, is happiness really just about the latest games machine or would my neighbour be better off rewarding his son with something less transient and less material.

I don't know the answers but there must also be a problem on the horizon in the future. Many of us played about writing computer code yet today children only play about with computers with no knowledge of its code.

Who will be the creative forces of the future when everything is switch on and play today, how long will it be before children will be taken from the maternity ward and plugged straight into a computer, how long until The Matrix comes true?

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