Month: August 2019
Month: August 2019
I am generally a pretty “connected” person. I didn’t grow up that way – had there been more than the six channels on TV at the time, or even the prevalence of kids programming that exists today, I might have spent even more of my time in front of the boob tube than I did. Had anything like Playstation or Wii existed when I was a kid, it is very likely I would never have left my own house. Phones were attached to walls – and were really only good for talking on anyway. Arcades existed to play games, but they were always smoky dives populated with big, loud, scary teenagers, so it was rare that I could eschew “real” activity for the virtual as a child.
Sure, digital activities did take up increasingly more and more of my life – even with six TV channels there were enough cartoons and sitcoms that I was able to glue myself to the screen for hours on end. Pong, Atari and the Commodore 64 changed my life as I entered my tweens, bringing simplistic yet distracting games right into my home. As I moved on to true teenager status I found myself in those same smoky, dingy arcades (and Laundromats and the backs of bodegas) pouring quarters into the machines that could offer real graphic excitement and social game play (even if that social aspect was merely trying to guess whose initials those were next to the Top Score).
With my kids now, everything is different. And while my wife and I tried to control how our kids would be exposed to certain entertainment technologies, even those have changed since we brought our first son into the world a little over seven years ago. Smartphones, iPads and Nintendo DS systems all allow our kids access to things that we had thought would only be accessed through our computer, or Playstation, just a few years back.
Of course the kids want to play games – the world is a game to kids, and even the most serious activities can become some game in their own minds. This drive on their part certainly makes certain parenting things easier, or harder. Discipline, for example, is quite simple – “no iPad for a week” is a standard enough punishment, and after the kids have to forgo all of the iterations of Angry Birds for a few days they do seem a bit more contrite. Reward, too, is easy enough – a new game for the DS or even renting a movie at Blockbuster can be a real motivator for these two little video-addicts.
I can be pretty confident taking my kids places, knowing that if they start to get bored I can sit them down with my phone and let them amuse themselves for a while – if not playing games then watching YouTube videos, making their own little movies (almost always comprised of them as superheroes, fighting imaginary bad guys) or even doing a video …
In the middle of the 1990s, the newest trend in consumer electronics was the personal computer; though this was just barely 20 years ago, the computers of that age are now considered bulky, unsightly and beyond useless. Slowly, as time moves on, the latest fad in consumer electronics moves with it. In the late 90s, it was the graphical version of the Windows operating system, then the laptop personal computer. Then it was the first cellular phones, which in the early years of the new millennium became small enough to fit into your pocket, although they still lacked color screens. Then of course came the camera and smartphone and the mobile device revolution; suddenly the most popular luxury was to have access to the internet ‘anywhere’ via cellular data, be it on a mobile device or personal computer. And finally, as we roll up into the present, suddenly it seems like everybody is interested in making and owning tablet computers.
Of course, it makes sense that the technology world isn’t static. Moore’s law means that, for the time being, even the most advanced technology we have right now will be just as out dated in two years as current two-year-old technology is now. So it may make sense that different fads pass in and out of the consumer electronics market as new technologies are developed. When cell phones first were developed, they became popular because we were first able to make them, right? And isn’t the same true about tablets now; they are just beginning to become popular because the technology to make them is just being developed? Contrary to popular belief, neither of these statements is true.
What is considered the latest technology in terms of popularity is rarely the cutting edge or the most advanced technology available. On the contrary, the most recent example, tablet computers, are actually a step backwards technologically, although in the public eye they are usually considered new and trendy. This is important to keep in mind trying to keep track of what the real advancements in the computing world have been, and when trying to objectively assess how good a price is for a specific piece of hardware, despite what may be popular or unpopular at the time.…