The arguments presented by this week’s readings are compelling. Ito embraces the advances of the technology, and his arguments seem more neutral and methodical that Turkle’s. Ito’s observations are surprisingly simple: (Ex.) Gaming represents the central form of early computer experience for kids….
The dominant approach to studies of gaming and learning has been the relationship between the gamer and the text.. The game has not directly or explicitly taught them technical skills, but game play has embedded young people in a set of practices…
Gaming has gradually become established as one of the dominant forms of entertainment of our time, there has been widespread debate over the merits of the medium… (Echoes Newton Minnow’s comments about television in the early 1960s in Abandoned in Wasteland)
But while I am impressed with Ito’s study, my own feelings about technology are closer to Turkle’s: “The devices in our pockets are so psychologically powerful they not only change what we do, but who we are.” (Although I’m not sure it’s a bad thing)
Perhaps the virtual world does pose a danger for young children or developing adolescents. I remember reading Erikson’s Identity: Youth and crisis, in which he calls identity formation is the chief concern of the adolescent. At the time writing (1968), Erikson named peers as having the most impact on a person’s sense identity. How might the advent of technology influence this fundamental cornerstone of human development? A child who spends all their time playing computer games might not develop important social skills; an adolescent who actually believes that their online persona is real may later develop identity issues.
Turkle says that “The virtual environments were most compelling because they offered opportunities for a social life, for performing as the self you wanted to be… So what kind of identity does a 16 year old develop with so much time spent in websites like Facebook as opposed to just hanging out with friends? Is an online “performed self” less genuine than a real time authentic self?
The other dangerous idea I think is that people feel their technology to be an extension of themselves. If an adolescent grows up believing this, how might their self image be impaired? Did people see television in the same way in the 1950’s, or radio in the 1920’s? Are those forms of technology so embedded in our experience that their effects are no longer noticed? That is a scary proposition.