Media, kids and mad parents

Most kids growing up playing Minecraft don’t remember why people needed video-rental stores. They don’t care which toys will be on display in the department store ‘grotto’ in six months time. Old people buy toys in stores these days, not kids.

Kids live in a world which is presented to them though inescapable media messages where persistent ‘calls to action’. They are only occasionally thwarted by parental illiteracy towards media – as the kid grabs the iphone or ipad as they jump into their sat-nav powered hybrid car.

Do parents dream of electric cars or Aeon Flux? I think Elon Musk must be rapt with the way the world is heading right now. In my thesis, I’m describing this culture as neo-evolutionary where the media created for them is more powerful than any media created by them. Is it better that they know something (anything) of how to ‘work the media devices’ or should parents just melt them over a campfire of rebelliousness. I don’t’ think ‘gamer’ is a useful term to describe what kids are doing with media anymore than ‘car maker’ describes Musk.

The naive enthusiasm for “Web2.0”, dubbed “the read/write web” created this ready made consumer audience. Being able to make media was always going to be achieved within branded-bubble-worlds, such as Apple and Google. Web2.0 didn’t liberate anyone. The basic tools afforded to users (such as we that blogged) didn’t create open systems, but allowed the media to focus on the most profitable ones. Media companies are not into nostalgia and will kill off any media channel which is not expanding their audience and that of their sponsors and advertisers.

Kids don’t need a credit card these days, as so much of their technology is connected to family funds. Sure some kids have to ask to spend, and parents do say no … but media has forever negated the need for children to handle physical money or visit a physical store to buy goods.

I want, I click, I get is way of life. Whether they need a few Canada Coins for in-game purchases, buy a season pass or look up just ‘information’. My point is that neo-kids are not required to differentiate between the corporeal and the virtual and the lack of physical items in transactions is a form of cultural amnesia. Amazingly, teachers maintain they can bridge this gap, and solve this problem. Try putting wet towels on students heads, that might work too. If we teachers get this right, childhood will be saved blah blah. We are not a more open society because of technology, we are a more gated, scrutinised and biased bunch of users.

In fact the less we are asked to think about the world, the more likely we are to go along with representations of it. Two examples: childhood – a mythical idea which is in danger of being corrupted by the media, unless children spend more time using the media. Childhood is a western, civic idea that is nonsensical to the vast majority of the world. Next, take the new ‘pay-pass’ system for store payments. Just wave your card at a machine. No, not there dummy, where the logo is. How inconvenient was it to tap in 4 digits with your fingers?

Well, it’s not designed for convenience, but to get people used to an important idea. We should wave away our money using digital devices more often than use real money. Real money is inconvenient (like thinking). Through this, the media uncouples the mind from pondering the physicality of consumerism itself. Pay-wave in the self-checkout lane? Oh how I love to use cash, take my own bags and have the store-person fill them out. I shop in the real world still, but I can well imagine I sound weird, if not insane to be the 1:100 who does this now.

Kids dig up diamonds, they find great treasures and despatch enemies without any real risk of actual danger or actual reward. The media has accepted that children will live in a neo-evolutionary closed community where the messages are there for just about any other purpose than critical thinking.

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